Continuing the show’s dominance of 60s soundtracks, Field Trip concludes with Jimi Hendrix’s If 6 Was 9 – a song that essentially about the counter cultural movement of the 60s and how the hippies are the really aware ones against the white collar conservatives. Whilst the show does flirt occasionally with the 60s counter culture, we’re far more familiar with the scene Hendrix was not in, yet despite this the song is perfectly chosen. At this episode’s end- Don is back to work yet not at all in the world has he known. If 6 was 9 indeed.
The other major development here is the end of the Draper marriage. It’s open to interpretation if it’s the actual beginning of the end for Don and Megan or just a temporary thing (much like his job) yet money would lie with it being done and dusted. Weiner loves to give when he takes with Don- Look at previous moment where his job is going great and his personal life falls apart. Or when he’s in newly smitten loved with Megan and turns in generic copy, such as Season 5’s Dark Shadows when he writes that cringe-worthy “Snowballs’ Chance in Hell” tag. Nonetheless, it certainly seems like Draper marriage #2 is over- furthering the dichotomy between Draper and Whitman and the truth. Things continually seem to point Don towards being truthful- his job woes and his drinking seem to suggest a breaking through of lies and masks is essential. He needs to reach out and find a new path, obviously. Yet when doing so, his marriage falls apart and the very firm he started neuters him in returning.
And finally, three episodes in, we get a check in with Betty! Her story has always seemed increasingly peripheral since her divorce from Don, yet here was a nice metaphorical play along with Bobby. If work is Don’s existential crutch, Betty’s is easily her children (haha the ‘60s amirite?) and she too has been on sabbatical, we at least learn through Bobby’s shock at Betty’s acceptance to go on a school trip with him. And she too learns that things change when you’re not about- and like Don, she too is short changed by those she’s come back to. Bobby giving away her lunch for candy he doesn’t even want… Who wouldn’t scold that kid?
But this episode is really all about Don. Roger gets to be the Sterling the crowd wants too- playing the casual badass role John Slattery must love getting to play with. His points about having to buy Don and the financial woe of that are all true, sure, but it’s clear that in the end- he just misses his friend.
There’s been talk online that Don simply shouldn’t have taken the job back, should’ve gone to another agency. But this misses the point of Don’s problem- he wasn’t just looking for work or something to do. Like every move he’s made since assuming Don’s name after Korea, he’s just looking for his own place. He’s tried building that place with two very different wives and it hasn’t worked. Can he really afford to start over in a new rut? And it would be a rut. “Sterling Cooper & Partners: Better the Devil You Know”
Loose End Observations:
- Peggy’s line to Don about how he hasn’t been missed was cold as ice! I know she’s bitter about him but god damn!
- Joan’s dress my god! Every season costume designer Janie Bryant ups her game but how amazing did Joan look? It’s funny how easy it is to just enjoy every shot in this series despite how crushing it is existentially.
- Don in Lane’s old office? Oh yeah… that’ll end well.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Mad Men airs Mondays, 4:35pm (repeated 8:35pm) on showcase