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While the majority of the show's pilot episode focuses on Don in crisis trying to figure out a new campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes, viewers thinkthey get a peek into Don's life outside the office when he visits Midge for a romp in the sack to clear his mind. However, the final moments of the episode see Don take the train out to the suburbs where he's greeted at home by his wife Betty and checks in on his two sleeping kids. This was just the first hint that Don Draper was a guy with a lot of secrets to unpack.
After Roger drunkenly makes a pass at Don's wife Betty, Don concocts his sly revenge. During a lunch of oysters, Don urges Roger to eat more and drink multiple martinis. When they return to the office, the elevator attendant (whom Don secretly bribed) informs the men that the elevator is out of service. Roger and Don decided to walk the 23 flights of stairs to the office, during which Roger struggles to keep up. When they finally arrive at the office, Roger pukes in front of the clients from the Nixon campaign and Don quietly smirks to himself.
When Don and Betty run into Jim Hobart, the head of rival ad agency McCann Erickson, during a night out Hobart offers Don a job and Betty, a former model, the chance to be the face of a Coca-Cola campaign. While Betty is at the shoot, their daughter Sally is threatened by a neighbor when Sally's dog bites and wounds one of the neighbor's pigeons. After Don turns down the job — and, in turn, costs Betty the modeling gig — Betty lets loose her pent-up housewife frustration and anger by stomping into the front yard and, with a lit cigarette in her mouth, shooting the neighbor's pigeons with her son Bobby's BB gun.
When Pete learns that Duck Phillips is being made head of accounts, Pete uses the information he has about Don's past — that his real name is Dick Whitman and he took on Don Draper's identity when the real Don was killed alongside him in the Korean War — to blackmail Don in hopes of getting the job instead. When Don calls Pete's bluff, he storms into Bert Cooper's office to reveal Don's secret. But Pete's plan backfires when Bert replies with a simple, "Who cares?"
After Don's relationship with Rachel Menken ends, he opts to stay home and work on a pitch rather than join his family for Thanksgiving. However, when Don presents his pitch for the Kodak Eastman slide projector known as "The Wheel," he uses his own family photos and realizes how much he cares about his wife and kids. "This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine," he says. "It goes backwards, forwards. Takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called ‘The Wheel.’ It’s called ‘The Carousel.’ It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved." Seven seasons later, and this is arguably still Don Draper at his finest.
During an Utz potato chips commercial shoot, stand-up comedian Jimmy Barrett offends the client by comparing his overweight wife to the Hindenburg. Don arranges a dinner where Jimmy must apologize to save the business, but he spends most of his time flirting with Betty. When Don pulls aside Jimmy's wife and manger — Bobbie, who had previously kissed Don — she says an apology will cost $25,000. Don grabs Bobbie by the hair, forces his hand up her skirt and vows to ruin Jimmy if apologies aren't made before appetizers. Don gets his way and a full-on affair with Bobbie soon begins.
Season 2 played coy with viewers for several episodes before explaining what became of the baby Peggy delivered in the Season 1 finale. However, a midseason flashback revealed that not only did Peggy give the baby away, but that Don actually encouraged Peggy to do it by teaching her a move from his own playbook. "Move forward," he says. "This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened."
This show never gave us a reason to like Duck Phillips, but it sure gave us one to hate him! After spending the episode warring with Don — and learning that his ex-wife was remarrying — Duck was left alone in the office with only his dog Chauncey. (His ex's new man was allergic!) Frustrated and angry, Duck considered drinking again, but instead, took out his frustrations in the worst way imaginable: He let Chauncey off his leash and abandons him on Madison Avenue. We still haven't gotten over it.
Joan brings her handsome doctor/husband-to-be Greg to the office to show off how happy she is, but things quickly take a turn. When Roger and Joan's banter makes Greg jealous, he pulls Joan into Don's office and tells her to pretend he's her boss. Perhaps still smarting from Joan taking control in the bedroom earlier in the episode, Greg takes the role-play too far, pulling Joan to the ground and, despite her protestations, rapes her. "This is what you want, right?" he hisses as the camera lingers on Joan's sad, dead eyes.
While on a business trip to California, Don visits an old friend who, via flashbacks, we learn is Anna Draper, the widow of the man Dick Whitman watched die in Korea. Although the flashbacks explain their history — she had to officially divorce "Don Draper" once he met Betty — the episode also shows how at ease Don could be when he wasn't carrying the weight of his past. He dressed differently, answered to the name Dick and seemed at peace, even when lamenting his life
Mad Menwas often a painful reminder of how racist and sexist society still was in the '60s, but few moments were more shocking than Roger singing "My Old Kentucky Home" in blackface during a Kentucky Derby party at his country club. Fortunately, Pete and Trudy doing the Charleston made up for it.
Guy McKendrick, the new boss, tours the office with Sterling Cooper's new British owners and meets the staff for the first time on Joan's last day. During a party in Joan's honor, one of the drunken copywriters breaks out a John Deere lawnmower. When one of the secretaries takes a spin, she loses control, running over Guy's foot and crashing into a wall. Despite the blood splatter and the screams of horror, it's unquestionably one of the funniest moments the show has ever pulled off. And Roger's quips after the fact didn't hurt: When the staff learns that Guy could lose his foot, Roger deadpans, "Right when he got it in the door."
While editing a commercial for Lucky Strike, client Lee Garner Jr. drunkenly comes on to art director Salvatore, who insists he's married. ("I know what I know," Garner says.) Angry and embarrassed about being turned down, Lee tells Harry Crane to fire Sal, who turns to Don for support. However, Don, who saw Sal kiss another man during a recent business trip earlier in the season, becomes furious that Sal didn't give Lee what he wanted. "You people," Don says. "Lucky Strike could shut off our lights. I think you know this that this is the way this has to be." In his final shot, Sal is seen calling his wife from a pay phone in a cruising area in the park.
Most shows would have drawn out its central mystery for years, but Mad Menisn't your average show. After discovering a shoebox full of photos from Don's past as Dick Whitman, Betty seeks legal advice. Even though the lawyer tells her to try to salvage the marriage, Betty struggles with it. ("It's a lie so big," she says.) Ultimately, Betty just drops the bomb on Don, whose fear and panic ultimately give way to sadness and relief as he tells her about his prostitute mother, his dead half brother and Anna Draper."What would you do if you were me? Would you love you?," Betty asks. "I was surprised you ever loved me, Don replies.) Betty would later go on to file for divorce.
When Don learns that McCann Erickson is buying out Sterling Cooper's British owners, he quickly urges Roger and Bert to buy the company back themselves. However, when Lane Pryce, who had been lied to by his British colleagues, says the asking price is too high, the four men concoct a brilliant plan. Taking advantage of the time difference between New York and London and a long weekend, Lane fires Don, Roger and Bert, who prepare to start their own firm with their existing clients. Pete, Peggy, Harry and Joan also come along as well, and they all raid the office files over the weekend. Perhaps one of the most energetic episodes the show ever produced, the move injected new life into the series.
Arguably the single best hour ofMad Menever produced, the bottle episode deals with Don and Peggy's relationship. When Don forces Peggy to work late on a Samsonite campaign — because Don doesn't want to return a phone call informing him that Anna Draper has died — the pair has it out about Don taking the credit for a commercial Peggy believes she came up with. "I give you money, you give me ideas," Don says. "But you never say thank you!" Peggy replies. "That's what the money's for!" Don says. The pair eventually cool off and discuss their personal lives, including Don's increased drinking. The next morning, Peggy catches Don sobbing about Anna's death ("She was the only person who truly knew me," he says), but Peggy assures him that's no longer true. After Don finishes the pitch, Peggy says it's perfect and Don gently takes her hand.
While Don is in a pitch meeting with Fillmore Auto Parts, Peggy discovers that Don's elderly secretary (punishment for Don having slept with his previous girl), has died at her desk. In one of the series' most comic moments, the staff tries to sneak Mrs. Blankenship out of the office without the Fillmore client noticing. "She died like she lived -- surrounded by the people she answered phones for,” Roger quipped.
During a business trip to California, Don brings along his secretary to watch after his kids Sally and Bobby. During the trip, Don and Megan inevitably sleep together. After seeing how great she is with the children — particularly the way she defuses tension after Sally spills her milkshake — Don impulsively proposes to Megan when they return to New York, and she accepts. When Don informs his season-long love interest Faye Miller, she utters what might the truest assessment of Don Draper ever: "I hope she knows that you only like the beginning of things."
Underlining Don's hasty decision to marry Megan, the Season 5 premiere shows how different the two are during a surprise birthday party for Don. While the attendees are strange mix of work colleagues and Megan's hip, young friends, things get even more awkward when Megan does a sexy public serenade of "Zou Bisou Bisou" much to Don's dismay. We're still cringing.
When actress January Jones became pregnant between Seasons 4 and 5, the show opted not to write in her pregnancy. However, Betty did gain a significant amount of weight. Although this episode presents Betty with a cancer scare that the doctors think could have caused the weight gain, Betty eventually receives a clean bill of health. Instead, her weight seems to be more of a symptom of her unhappiness in her new marriage.
Although Pete deserved a punch in the face for years, we never thought Lane Pryce would be the one dishing it out! Lane secures a meeting with his friend Edwin from Jaguar, but he is unable to secure the business. When Pete and Roger take over, they get Edwin to sign, but when he asks to have some fun, they take him to a brothel. Once Edwin's wife learns of is adultery ("He was caught with chewing gum on his pubis!" Lane shouts), he pulls the business and Lane angrily blames Pete, whom he challenges to an awkwardly hilarious fistfight, which ends with Pete on his back with a bloody nose. "I don't know about you two, but I had Lane," Roger quips.
As his marriage to Jane continues to unravel, Roger agrees to attend a party with her and try LSD. Although he is at first dismissive of the drug, once his high kicks in — he hears a symphony when he opens a vodka bottle, pictures himself with black and gray hair, sees his cigarette shrink with one puff and imagines himself watching the 1919 World Series — he is able to finally come to terms with the fact that he and Jane must get divorced. Ain't enlightenment grand?
Herb Rennet, the head of the dealer's association, tells Pete he can make sure Jaguar gives SCDP the business if he can arrange one night for Herb to be with Joan. When Pete broaches the topic with Joan, she angrily refuses, but Pete insists that the partners should offer her $50,000 to do it. Don refuses to be involved, but Lane suggests Joan should ask for an ownership stake in the company. She ultimately agrees to do so on Lane's terms and, even though Don tries to stop Joan when he learns the partners went through with it, he is too late, which he realizes only after they win the business and Joan shows up in a partners meeting.
Feeling left out of the Jaguar account, Peggy takes the advice of Freddy Rumsen and secures a huge promotion and pay raise for rival firm Cutler Gleason and Chaough. When she informs Don of the news, he dismisses it, offering her more money. When she says it's not about money, the truth hits home and Don kisses Peggy's hand, refusing to let go. "Don't be a stranger," Peggy says, fighting back tears. But those tears are replaced with a smile when she gets into the elevator and heads toward her future.
After Bert Cooper finds a canceled check to Lane Pryce with Don's signature, Don asks Lane about the forgery. Although Lane explains that it was just to get by and that the company is now in good financial shape, Don can't let the embezzling go. He urges Lane to start over and make an elegant exit. That weekend, Lane attempts to kill himself in a new Jaguar his wife bought him, but it failed to start. Instead, Joan and others eventually find Lane dead in his office where he had hanged himself. The death was foreshadowed by an overall sense of dread hanging over the entire season, but was nonetheless powerful, as no major character had even been killed off the show.
After agreeing to let Pete have his own bachelor pad in the city, Trudy is incensed after she catches him cheating with one of their neighbors. But because she "refuses to be a failure" as a divorcée, she simply kicks Pete out of the house and sets the new rules of their marriage on her terms. "I don't care what you want anymore. This is how it's going to work: You will be here only when I tell you to be here. I'm drawing a 50-mile radius around this house and if you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you."Hell's bells, Trudy!
After Don impulsively tanks the Jaguar account, ruining a chance to take the company public, he sets his sights on winning the Chevrolet account. However, when he realizes his rival Ted Chaough — whose firm Cutler, Gleason and Chaough is in its own financial straits because one of its partners is dying — is also in the mix, Don gets creative. Realizing the two smaller firms will likely cancel each other out, they decide to put their differences aside and pitchtogether. When they win the business, the firms officially announce that they are merging, much to the chagrin of Peggy, who is now back under Don's thumb.
After Jim Cutler brings in a doctor to give everyone working on the Chevy brainstorm an amphetamine boost, all hell breaks loose. There are multiple foot races through the office, Don loses track of time and Cutler watches Stan have sex. But nothing beats Ken Cosgrove, who does a tap dance routine while doing a freestyle poem about kissing clients' asses. "It’s my job to take them to dinner at 80 miles an hour. It’s my job to stop a mile from the restaurant so they can have five pounds of crab legs and three bottles of beer a piece, and then go get prime rib. It’s my job to go hunting so they can fire off their guns an inch from my ear and laugh when I get startled becauseIT’S MY JOB!"
While visiting their son Bobby's summer camp, Don and Betty fall pretty easily back into their old chemistry, which naturally leads them back into the bedroom. But this time, Betty is in control. She knows this is a one-time dalliance, and even finally understands and empathizes with Megan."She doesn't know that loving you is the worst way to get to you," Betty tells Don. And the next morning, when Don sees Betty laughing and eating with her new husband Henry as Don eats alone, it's clear that Betty is pleased with the life she's chosen.
Although Don's affair with his neighbor Sylvia Rosen had ended, he helps get her son Mitchell out of trouble for sending back his military draft card in protest. As a result, Sylvia and Don rekindle their romance. Unfortunately, Don's daughter Sally — who with her friend Julie had written a love note to Mitchell — sneaks into Sylvia's apartment to take the note back and sees her father and Sylvia making love. Later at the dinner table, while Megan praises Don for helping the Rosens, Sally screams, "You make me sick!" and runs to her room.
Bob Benson was one big mystery onMad Men. Always willing to lend a helping hand — including hiring his friend Manolo to care for Pete's ailing mother — Bob worked his way up in the company even though Pete eventually found him to be a fraud. The icing on the cake, however, came when Pete learned that his mother had fallen overboard from a cruise ship, on which she hadmarriedManolo. Believing Bob to be involved, when Bob asks Pete how he's doing, he replies with one of Vincent Kartheiser'sgreatest line readingson the show.
Don's season-long flashbacks to his impoverished youth pay off when, after delivering a pitch to Hershey's he doesn't believe in, Don is moved to tell the truth. He poetically tells them about being raised in a whorehouse and exactly what eating a Hershey's bar meant to him. He ultimately tells Hershey's they don't need to advertise because of the connection they already have with consumers. After he is forced to go on leave from the agency, Don decides to also be honest with his kids and takes them to see the house he grew up in. Even though Don may have drank away almost everything in his life, the look between him and Sally offers the slightest sense of hope for the future.
We always knew there was something off about Ginsberg. After SC&P installs a computer in the office, Ginsberg complains that pressure is building in his head and that the computer is turning everyone in the office into homosexuals. After convincing Peggy to let him work at her place, he says the only way to release the pressure is for the pair to have sex. Peggy refuses and sends Ginsberg away. The next day, he shows up at work, apologizing to Peggy and saying he found a way to release the pressure: He hands her a box that contains his severed nipple. Peggy calls a doctor and they wheel Ginsberg away on a stretcher as he yells, "Get out while you still can!"
The final season begins with both Don and the show splitting time between New York and Los Angeles, as Megan pursues her acting career and Sterling Cooper & Partners opens a West Coast office. But no one takes to the groovy brightness of the California sun quite like Pete Campbell. Tanned and wearing a casual blue polo with plaid pants, Pete hugs Don and orders a pastrami sandwich that's to die for. Of course, Pete can't have itall: "The bagels are terrible," he says.
While stuck on a pitch for Burger Chef, Don and Peggy basically confess to one another how empty their lives have become because of work. Don says he worries that he doesn't have anyone, and she laments that she just turned 30 and lies about her age."What if there was a place you could go, and there was no TV, and you could break bread, and whoever you were sitting with was family?" Peggy says, landing on the perfect idea for the pitch. After the breakthrough, Don and Peggy, seemingly putting their past struggles behind them, dance to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" in what could have just as easily been the final shot of the series.
After Bert Cooper's sudden death, Jim Cutler now has the votes to fire Don permanently. When Don learns of this news, rather than trying to milk the Burger Chef pitch as his return to his former glory, he tells Peggy to do it because he may not be around to see it through. Peggy freaks out, but, with Don's encouragement, finds the confidence to deliver a signature, emotional pitch. Using the moon landing as her own launching pad, she talks about how the televised moment seized the nation's attention — that in one moment, the separated masses were connected over this one feat. That connection, Peggy argues, is what people are starving for, and the Burger Chef execs eat out of her hand. Consider the torch passed.
Although Don celebrates winning the Burger Chef business — and the fact that Roger orchestrated a deal for McCann Erickson to buy SC&P that keeps Don employed — he becomes much more melancholy when he sees a vision of the recently deceased Bert Cooper dancing and singing "The Best Things in Life Are Free" in the office. Although the episode ends on a somber note, with Don reflecting whether he's really won anything by getting this part of his life back, it was a fitting send-off to longtime song-and-dance man Robert Morse, who had inhabited the quirky leader of Sterling Cooper since the first season.