Mad Men Recap: You Can't Always Get What You Want

In this week’s Mad Men, we open with Don sitting alone in a movie theater, smoking, because that is a thing you could do in the 1960s. We are so jealous. Don doesn’t seem to be back at work yet, as he’s still having Dawn sneak him paper and typewriter ribbons. He wants Dawn to hop on over to his house ASAP but she’s busy and he is so pouty about it, so he hangs up on her. Way to win friends and influence people there, Don.

Because Dawn is no longer at his beck and call, Don is forced to, horror of horrors, return his own phone calls, this time to Megan’s agent, Alan Silver, WHO WE LOVE.


Alan would like to talk to Don about casting. Wait, what? Apparently Megan is being quite persistent about her desire to obtain a acting gig, basically by stalking the director and then crying her face off and demanding another reading. We do not think this is how you get good acting jobs maybe? Alan wants Don to help but Don does not want to help. Don wants to down a glass of whiskey and stare off into space, but instead he will fly off to sunny California.

Back at the office where people who actually work are working, Peggy and Stan explaining an ad pitch to the anti-Don, Lou, who is being as dickish as always. We hate Lou. Lou is mad because Peggy and Stan worked up art for a pitch, because why on earth would you want art for your pitch?

There’s something complicated happening about the upcoming Clio Awards. Michael’s been nominated for his work on Playtex, which used to be Peggy’s account. Can we just say we are liking Michael less and less these days? He’s gone from charmingly nebbishy to whiny and undermining. Peggy’s ad was never submitted, because Ted pulled it because clients hate awards. We are so confused.

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Betty! Betty is here! She’s lunching with another lady who lunches, eating cantaloupe, the required diet food of ladies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Betty is all about talking about what a big deal Henry is these days, palling around with Rockefellers, while friend Francine just wants Peggy to take her business cards for her travel agency. Francine actually has an office she goes to, which seems to intrigue Peggy yet also turn her into a total bitch.

Harry! Harry Crane is here! Time to talk media plans with a client who is kicking around jumping ship to Gray Advertising because they have a computer to help them do advertising media-type things. Harry saves the day by explaining that SCP also too has a computer, but then he whines about it to Jim, who is not about that at all. Harry walks out on him.

Now Don is in California being aimless, which is the same as Don being aimless in New York, except sunnier. He’s there to surprise Megan, who is really rocking the late 1960s wear much better than anyone else so far.

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Seriously, look at that thing. It’s a crocheted vest/skirt combo over a rayon? we’re going with rayon shirt. It’s magnificent, and the contrast with Don’s early 1960s suit game couldn’t be more obvious.

Don is trying, in his own weird way, to give Megan a pep talk about how everyone in acting — and advertising — suffers rejection, but this just makes Megan agitated. You will be unsurprised to learn that when he tells her he’s there because Alan Silver called him, that does not un-agitate Megan in the slightest. Oh, and then Don tells her she is acting like a lunatic and Megan goes OFF. She points out that whenever she calls him at the office, she doesn’t actually get him, and he has to call her back and also too she never hears any office noises or typewriters.

Megan, of course, thinks Don is having an affair and that’s why he’s all dodgy, so he has to fess up and tell her that he’s been on leave since THE PREVIOUS YEAR. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Don that if he didn’t have a job, he could have been out in California with Megan, and his choosing not to says it all. She tells him it’s over and that he needs to call a cab and get out of there. We don’t really care if Don and Megan break up, but we’ll be really sad if Megan and her outfits go away.

Harry gets a call from the Wall Street Journal, because Jim asked them to call him up as Jim felt bad about stomping on Harry earlier. Except the WSJ would like to talk about SCP’s computer, but there is no computer, and there is pretty much none of the other stuff he told the client about earlier.

Having Megan toss him seems to have energized Don, who calls Dave Wooster to set up dinner and, presumably, get moving on jumping to another ad agency. At dinner, they present him with an offer, but it is in a sealed envelope, and they won’t tell him and Don won’t open it. This is the weirdest power game ever. Mid-conversation, a young blond thing comes over to the table and tells Don she feels like she knows him from somewhere and then very pointedly tells him where in the hotel she is staying. Don is utterly mystified by the whole thing and assumes that Wooster has set it up as part of the hard sell to get him to come aboard. They swear up and down that it wasn’t their doing, but offer to let him bounce if he’d like to join her.

Instead of joining the young lady, Don goes to see Roger, who answers the door in the most magnificent fucking smoking jacket ever.

Mad Men Recap: You Can't Always Get What You Want

We want that thing so hard we can taste it.

Don has brought his rival offer to Roger to have a big fight about Roger firing Don, whether Don should leave, how Don is one step above a crazy guy roaming the streets, and so on. Except Roger also tells Don that if he wants to come back, he should come back on Monday. So that’s all it took?

Don calls Megan, who is a crying mess but doesn’t really want to talk to him. He’s pretty certain that he’s fixed everything because he’s going back to SCP, but Megan reminds him that the whole deal was that he’d find a job in California because of how she lives in California. He offers to fly back out for the weekend, but she tells him it is a bad idea and doesn’t return his “I love you.” Ouch.

Betty is chaperoning Bobby’s field trip and is sitting on the school bus stone cold smoking like a boss.

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They’re going to a farm or something, which we just can’t picture Betty being at.

Don goes into SCP, and the first person he sees is the anti-Don. He tells Lou he is ready to get back to work. Lou sends him off with a condescending “good for you.” Roger’s not there yet, and Don has no office because the anti-Don took his office and he’s left to wander around awkwardly for a few seconds until he’s dragged into a meeting by Michael, who immediately wants to talk to him about a campaign. OK, right now we love Michael for his completely terrible social skills, because only he would just start talking shop with Don without even thinking about niceties like catching up or finding Don a place to sit or anything of the sort.

Michael heads down to Peggy’s office to get the storyboards for the campaign, which is for something called Chevalier and involves horses. Or horsepower. We’re not sure. Michael tells Peggy he needs the boards for Don, and Peggy stomps out to go see what the hell is going on, Michael in tow, and is then joined by Stan and the ditzy blond secretary, all of whom then just stand there and stare at Don.

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Looks like Roger didn’t bother to tell anyone that Don was coming back. Roger probably had to go have a sex orgy and forgot.

The moms and kids have reached the farm, but Peggy and another mom don’t want to stop smoking long enough to go into the barn. We applaud this lifestyle choice.

Joan zips into Bert’s office to tell him that Don is there and they both agree that Don should really not be there. Joan! You’re breaking our heart. We thought you’d come back to Team Don. Roger finally comes in and he is sauced and Don is pissed. Don wants Roger to call a meeting to explain that Don is coming back, and Roger slopes off to maybe do that, maybe not. Meanwhile, Don’s relegated to sitting in the bullpen and eating his lunch at the communal desk.

Cut to Lou whining about Don’s return and saying that the agency has to pay him anyway even if Don returns and Lou does no more work. Christ, we’d pay any amount for Lou to go away. Jim tries to soothe his ruffled feathers and tell him that Don will be asked to leave.

We’re back at the farm and Betty is now going to drink some milk straight from the cow. Bobby looks upon her admiringly, but farm lunch doesn’t go so well when Bobby trades Betty’s sandwich for some gumdrops. Betty just puts on her sunglasses and smokes and stares. Best mom or worst mom??

Time for the big fight about whether Don can come back or not. Roger says they put Don on a leave of absence, but Jim and Joan think that they basically fired him but called it a leave to give Don time for a dignified transition. Bert isn’t sure what to think. This spirals into a conversation about media and Harry Crane and computers and the creatives and Don hurting Ted’s feelings. After much yelling, Roger points out that if they do want to toss him for good, Don’s a partner and they’ll have to buy him out.

Back at the Francis household, Betty is pointedly not talking to Bobby and is, of course, still smoking. She has literally never been without a cigarette the entire episode until we see her cuddling the youngest child, who apparently has not offended her today.

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Betty can’t understand why she is a bad mom and why her children don’t love her. Pro-tip: it’s because once they’re past toddler age, you’re terrible to them.

Peggy comes to talk to Don to ask him if he’s coming back and to inform him that no one misses him. Seriously, we’re beginning to feel bad for the guy, and it is only going to get worse when he’s called into a meeting with all the partners. He can come back to work, but only with stipulations. He’s not allowed to be alone with clients and he’s not allowed to deviate from a script when pitching and he’s not allowed to drink in the office and he has to report to Lou. LOU?? We were thinking Don would run, not walk, away from this, but he says yes.

What the ever living fuck? We don’t want to live in a world where Don Draper reports to the anti-Don Draper, unless it is a matter/anti-matter sort of thing that results in Lou vanishing from the Earth. Here’s hoping that’s what happens next week.

Catch up in the archives

Mad Men Season Seven Episode One
Mad Men Season Seven Episode Two

TV Show: Mad Men

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  • BMW

    Yeah…the hardest part of that to swallow was Don having to report to Lou. Lou shouldn’t be evaluating a 6th grade science fair, let alone Don’s work.

    • Yeah–I know the show is setting it up for Dramatic Tension Showdown but I just can’t bear it.

    • randomness lez

      The worst part is Don can’t drink on the job anymore- WTF?It’s Roger’s world, everyone else is just living in it.