Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "The Fog"

Season 3, Episode 5
Episode Synopsis: Concern over Sally's behavior causes Don and Betty to act; opportunistic Pete tries to work a new angle into his business dealings; and an odd dream has a strange effect on Betty.
Original Air Date: Sep 13, 2009
Guest Cast Anne Dudek: Francine Hansen Jared Gilmore: Bobby Draper
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Season 3, Episode 5
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Length: 47:33
Aired: 9/13/2009
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "The Fog" Season 3, Episode 5

The fifth episode of Mad Men's third season wastes no time picking up the "circle of life" threads left dangling after Grandpa Gene's death. As Don and Betty deal with Sally's bad-behavior coping mechanism, the Drapers also welcome into their home a new bundle of joy (or more likely, annoyance, given what we've seen from those two as parents). The birth (or perhaps the drugs) does provide Betty an escape from her life of bitterness, but will it last? Meanwhile, back at Sterling Cooper, Pete suggests a risky new strategy to a less-than-pleased client and also goes to lunch with a familiar face.


"Pete, I know you have ideas and you're a risk-taker. Sterling Cooper is never going to reward that." — Duck Phillips

Let's start with Pete, who begins the episode whining to Paul Kinsey that all the best accounts went to Cosgrove. His latest cause for complaint: Admiral television sales are flat, and Pete has no idea how to boost them — that is, until he notices (with great shock) that sales are growing in Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis and other comparable cities because, as Pete puts it, "Negroes are out-buying white people two-to-one" in those markets.

While Pete's wheels begin turning, he gets a surprise call from "Uncle Herman," which turns out to be none other than Duck Phillips. (Loved the exchange from Pete, however, believing it was his real uncle Herman.) Duck, now at Grey Advertising, has poaching on his mind and invites Pete to lunch. When Pete shows up, however, he finds Duck sitting with none other than Peggy Olson. Duck tells them that Grey, "the promised land," will reward their big brains with money and awards. As to why he chose them both, Duck says he figured out their "secret relationship" (if he only knew!) based on how Pete handled the Freddy Rumsen pants-wetting debacle in a manner that eventually advanced Peggy's career. That sends an already seething Pete over the edge and he stands to leave. Even though Duck says Sterling Cooper will never listen to Pete's ideas, Campbell has heard enough: "If you want to woo me, you'll have to buy me my own lunch," he pouts.

But Duck is proved semi-correct when Pete, after "honest conversation" with Hollis the black elevator operator, decides to move forward with his pitch to Admiral. He tells them to buy cheaper ad space in Ebony and Jet, which will boost their strong sales in black markets. He claims a 5 percent bump in a black market will be as profitable as a 2 percent increase system-wide. The clients are confused, however, about making a white ad and a black ad, and when Pete suggests integration, the men bring the meeting to a halt. "This conversation is not worth having," one of the executives says. "Who's to say that Negroes aren't buying Admiral televisions because they think white people want them?" Pete takes similar abuse from Bert Cooper and Roger Sterling when they hear from the angry Admiral reps. But because he's a "stranger in a strange land," or because he's taken a shine to Pete, Lane defends Campbell's thinking and suggests Sterling Cooper further investigate the growing population of black buyers.

"I look at you and I think, 'I want what he has.' You have everything and so much of it." — Peggy Olson

After Pete stormed off, Duck gives Peggy's ego a boost, both by complimenting her ideas and by thinking of her as the free-wheeling career gal she seems ever so eager to be. Peggy naturally still feels some loyalty to Don, so she goes to him to see perhaps just how different Sterling Cooper is from the other agencies. "It's not a good time," Don says when Peggy asks for more money. He's not lying, considering how Lane is on top of Don about the wasted dollars on pencils, notepads and paper clips. But that doesn't make Peggy feel any better. After making Don realize just how disconnected his perspective is from hers, she walks out, echoing Duck's promise to her: "What if now's my time?" she asks.

Pete catches Peggy leaving Don's office, and gives her the shakedown about whether she squealed about their joint lunch with Duck. Even though she didn't mention it, Peggy tells Pete it's none of his business. Pete is understandably worried, as Peggy can use the lunch as a bargaining chip, while he could easily be let go in favor of Cosgrove being head of accounts full-time. "Your decisions affect me," Pete says, and the weight of that statement's double truth ends the conversation.

"This is a fresh start. I'm going to be a better man. Tell me you heard me." — Dennis Hobart

Away from the office, Don and Betty visit Sally's Maypole-dancing teacher, Miss Farrell (Abigail Spencer), after Sally gets in a hair-pulling match with Becky Pearson, a "heavy" girl who the other kids routinely pick on. When the teacher finds out that Betty's dad died recently (the date of which Betty struggles to pinpoint), she lays into the Drapers about not taking her out of school and giving her time to grieve. "I don't think children belong in graveyards," Don says. The teacher agrees and apologizes to Don for upsetting Betty, who has to leave the room for a baby-induced bathroom break. Miss Farrell simply reminds Don that kids feel a special kind of pain at that age when they lose a loved one, and on that point, she and Don agree.

Later that night, however, Miss Farrell calls the Draper home and gets Don on the phone. She's drunk, and equally flirts and apologizes her way through telling Don that she perhaps over-involved herself because her own father died when she was just 8 years old. By the end of the conversation, Don seems to be enjoying his chat a little too much (and all I can think of is him stroking that grass a few weeks ago). Alas, they are interrupted by Betty, who is going into labor. When she asks Don who was on the phone, he calmly lies and says it was nothing.

While waiting for Betty to give birth, Don bonds with fellow expectant father and prison guard Dennis Hobart (Matt Bushell) over a bottle of Scotch. Dennis makes Don feel guilty about not throwing the ball around enough little Bobby, but also uses Don as his shrink to talk through his own issues of becoming a parent. He thinks of all the men behind bars who blame their parents for the way their lives ended up. (Don, who rose from the ashes of his terrible upbringing, calls that a "bulls--- excuse." Then Dennis worries about bringing home the horrors of his job home to his kid. Finally, Dennis' guilty conscience gets the best of him when he worries about losing "his girl," who is struggling with a breach birth. He fears he would hate the baby for killing his wife, but Don, taking a line from Balzac by way of Salvatore Romano, reminds him "our worst fears lie in anticipation."

We get more of a peek into Dennis' guilty conscience when he finally learns that his baby boy is OK. Dennis has been a bit of a philanderer it seems, but because he feels Don is an "honest man" (ha!), Dennis seemingly repents and vows to Don to do right by his new family. Even though Don looks slightly pained when Dennis has this revelation, he does seem to be playing father better than we're used to seeing. His smile-worthy, midnight-snack scene with Sally gives Don the chance to ensure his daughter that "everything is going to be fine." After Sally says her teacher said the same thing, Don reasons that it must be true.

"See what happens to people who speak up? Be happy with what you have." — Ruth Hofstadt

While Don is busy getting chummy with Dennis Hobart, Betty gives birth by way of a drug-induced "fog" that provides two wacky dreams. In the first, a glamorous and non-pregnant Betty walks a sidewalk straight out of her picturesque suburban life. She takes a floating caterpillar in her hands and closes her grip. In the dream, it seems she's nurturing it, perhaps providing a cocoon for it to grow and change into a beautiful butterfly. But based on Bettty's real parenting, I couldn't help but think that maybe she was squishing it.

Betty comes out of her haze long enough to wonder why Don wasn't by her side. The nurses assure her that he is in the waiting room, to which she angrily retorts, "He's never where you expect him to be." That bitterness that was absent from her first dream then surfaces in her second, when Betty, pregnant but acting as a young girl, is reunited with her mom, dad and who I assume is Medgar Evers. (Sally's teacher mentioned the civil rights leader's recent death, which, if my history is correct, occurred one day after Gene's.) Sensing Betty's negative attitude toward being just a housewife, Betty's parents warn her to keep quiet. "You're a housecat. You're important, and you have little to do," Gene says while mopping up Evers' blood.

When Betty wakes, she's holding her baby boy and Don is right by her side. (Thanks, Dennis?) Betty decides, without Don's approval, to name the baby after her father. And when Daddy Don brings little Eugene's big brother and sister to visit, Betty is all smiles, something we haven't seen in a while. The smiles continue at home until in the middle of the night, when baby Gene's screams echo through the Drapers' halls. Betty is a housewife, indeed, and duty calls. And just as quickly as the smiles came, they vanish as Betty slowly (grudgingly?) leaves Don in the bed to tend to their new little one.

A few other thoughts:

• I find it interesting that, though Betty's unhappiness has been covered greatly throughout the show, it hasn't often revolved around her role as a housewife. She's generally just upset with her unfaithful husband, who himself seems to be fighting against being locked down in the suburbs. However, it seems the two swapped places in this episode. And with Don telling Sally that "not all surprises are bad," I wonder if he is at all pleasantly surprised at his own acceptance of his new fatherly roles.

• I do believe that Don took Dennis' words to heart, but what did you make of that glance Dennis gave Don when they passed in the hall the next day? It almost felt like he was ashamed to have shared so much with Don in his drunkenness. What did everyone else think?

• Maybe it's coincidence, but I feel like Mad Men often pairs the stories of Betty and Pete together in the same episodes. I can't help but think of Season 2's "The Inheritance," where both characters "grew up" in their dealings with their parents. Along those lines, I find it interesting how the race issue Pete was dealing with was weaved into Betty's dream with Medgar Evers. Especially since Betty seems so far removed from the office storylines. Why do you (or don't you) think Betty and Pete seem to be linked in storytelling?

• Pete's chat with Hollis was both funny ("Every job has its ups and downs," says the elevator operator — ha!) and awkward. I do believe that Pete was just trying to pump Hollis for insight (echoes of Don speaking to the waiter about Lucky Strikes in the pilot), but he doesn't have the social graces to pull it off. Also, I loved the truth of Hollis' line, which, in light of Evers' death, speaks to the times for African Americans: "We've got a lot more to worry about than watching TV."

• Even though they are often at odds, I enjoy Don and Lane going head-to-head. That conversation was also a reminder of Don's love for movies, such as The Bridge on the River Kwai. Also, Don storming out of what he thought was a pointless budget meeting was just awesome.

• I was more than a little disturbed by the depiction of medical professionals during that time period. I trust that Matt Weiner made the effort to get it right, but I hope a few of you may be able to share your own experiences to prove me right or wrong.

• Duck (in a turtleneck!) was a welcome return for me. I'm curious to see where, if anywhere, that plot goes. Also, I thought Peggy was drinking a Bloody Mary, I think Duck was perhaps back to sobriety.

• I absolutely love Roger Sterling. Whether he's threatening to drop-kick Pete off the roof or eating a sundae in the middle of the day, he's always perfect. (But, seriously, ice cream during work hours? He really has becomes useless to the agency.)

• Everyone who's been begging for some Peggy-Pete interaction got their wish tonight, and I'm sure many will be disappointed with it. But I thought the clear discomfort between them was great, as well as the previously mentioned loaded statement from Pete, which brought Peggy's decision to give away Pete's baby right back to the fore.

• Finally, Don and Miss Farrell crossed paths again tonight. I want to believe that Don might stay on the "good" path for a bit, but I can't help but think this character was brought back for a reason.

What did you think of "The Fog?" Be sure to check out our 60-second video recap of the episode below.

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The fifth episode of Mad Men's third season wastes no time picking up the "circle of life" threads left dangling after Grandpa Gene's death. As Don and Betty deal with Sally's bad-behavior coping mechanism, the Drapers also welcome into their home a new bundle of joy (or more likely, annoyance, given what we've seen from those two as parents). The birth (or perhaps the drugs) does provide Betty an escape from her life of bitterness, but will it last? Meanwhile, back at Sterling Cooper, Pete suggests a risky new strategy to a less-than-pleased client and also goes to lunch with a familiar face.

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