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Mad Men: Shut the Door. Have a Seat. - Review

"I'm not going to let you break up this family" - Don Draper

The 3rd season finale of the gloriously decadent Mad Men has come and gone and let me tell you it's been one hell of a ride. I thought there was no way that after last weeks mind-numbingly and thought provoking episode show runner Matthew Weiner would be able to pull out another gem from his bag of tricks but I was completely and utterly wrong. Great writing, sublime acting and incredibly funny lines punctuated this phenomenal season ending episode.

My oh my, what an amazing ending to what has got to be the best television drama in American history. Many questions have been raised this year and on any other show the answers might have been neatly tied up, but not this show. As often stated, this years theme was about change and Weiner & Co delivered. Big time.

"Shut the Door. Have a Seat" was all about two things; Betty and Don's marriage and the fate of Sterling Cooper. Everything else was just along for the ride just like the audience. Old friends are thrown together to try and find a way to get along while Don can't seem to keep his marriage from crumbling. During which there was betrayal, change, conspiracy, rebirth and redemption. But makes no bones about it but this was a FUN episode. The times are a changin', so let's dive right in!

On to my epic recap and review . . .

Jumping ahead to December 11th, 1963 Don is relegated to sleeping in Gene's old room and the ghost must have turned off his alarm as he wakes up late for a meeting with Connie. It was worth the wait as Connie tells Don that the agency McCann Erickson is going to buy PPL and of course that comes with Sterling Cooper. Don sees Connie for what he really is (a crazy businessman?) and starts to tell him off when Connie gives him some sage advice about being his own man.

Upon arriving at the office Don has a flashback about how his father is being undercut in the wheat farming business and it seems as though Don is not going to let himself be sold out. He visits Cooper and confronts him about the impending sale. Cooper doesn't know what's happening; Don gets upset and tells him they should buy SC from PPL. "I'm sick of being bounced around like a ping-pong ball" he says and convinces Cooper to at least try to get company control. They can't do it without Roger and the newly formed dynamic duo pay Roger Sterling a visit. Roger is naturally defensive and resists Don's ideas until Cooper says "Join or Die." Roger lets loose with some funny zingers Don's way and then shows that after all that's happened between them he melts over Don's puppy eyed zealotry.

That night when Don gets home "Mother of the Year" Betty immediately tells the kids to go upstairs as she wants to talk to him. She wants a divorce, plain and simple. Don can't handle this and suggests she see a doctor which doesn't sit well with Betty. Don utters "I'm not going to let you break up this family" which was so crazy I had to laugh. That's all you've done Don!

The next morning Don, Roger and Cooper set there plan in motion by calling Lane in to see them with the news that they want to buy SC from PPL. Problem is Lane only knows part of the story. Cooper pitches his offer of 12% over the original purchase price and Lane scoffs all the way out which prompts Roger to talk about their contracts. Hmm, more on that later.

Betty is seeing a divorce attorney with Henry Francis and he tells her that divorce is not really an option in New York but if she establishes a residency in Reno, Nevada for six weeks it's quick and easy. This scenario is very suspicious as the lawyer seems to be on Henry's payroll and when she balks Henry immediately offers to take care of her and the three kids. Sounds like a mafia strong arm tactic to me. This can't end well for Betty!

Lane goes and calls Saint John (it sounds like Cinjun to me) and finds out that Connie's news was 100% percent accurate and that PPLY is being sold along with himself to McCann. Lane is pissed but shows impeccable manners.

That night Don watches Sally sleep in Gene's ghost bed and has another flashback to the night his drunk father argues with his mother over the unsold wheat and decides to go to town in the rain and sell it. Umm, ok. While in the barn his dad gives Little Dick (Whitman) some moonshine and stupidly puts his head behind a horse with thunder and lightning crashing. The horse let's loose and kicks old daddy in the head killing him instantly. How humiliating! Present day Don then curls up in bed with Sally and goes to sleep.

This is where the story really gets entertaining. Don calls Cooper, Roger and Lane into his office at 9:30am to stage a coup. Yes, folks there's a conspiracy a foot. Lane is resistant at first and there's some arguing but then Don realizes that just about the only good thing Lane has done was fire people; that is the answer! He wants Lane to fire them all so they will be released from their contracts and suddenly Lane "gets" what Don has in mind. Don even offers him a partnership over Roger's feeble objection. Quickly and without warning Lane starts spinning an elaborate plan about what they need to do to make this coup work. They need accounts, all the necessary paperwork and like-minded people. They immediately set the plan into motion. It was actually pretty exciting to see all the power guys making nice and having a goal. Don's first thought is about Pete and then yells for Peggy to come into his office. Very flippantly Don TELLS Peggy what she is going to do which lights a fire under her. She tells Don off and out right refuses his "offer." She's got all the cards and isn't afraid of using them.

Next stop is Pete's house because he had called in sick and is not responding to phone calls. Pete is already planning to jump ship and is taking all his accounts with him. Roger and Don show up at his door and offer him a job but Pete goes into into survival mode and refuses and then takes a "what's in it for me" approach. For the 5th time in this episode Don has to actually tell someone how important they are to them. He is the ultimate spinmeister and lays it on think to old sneaky Pete. Pete wants to be a partner and Don agrees if he can deliver in two days. They leave satisfied and Pete gets to work!

It's just like old times as Don and Roger go drinking together and Roger let's slip that he knows about Betty and Henry Francis because his daughter Margaret is friends with Henry's daughter. Don says he needs an attorney and Roger tells him that it sounds like they're serious. Don is drunk and very upset as he goes home and confronts Betty about Henry. He lays into her big time just stopping short of smacking her around. He threatens her and calls her a whore but baby Gene wakes up before things get really bad.

Sunday night comes and Harry joins Pete on the elevator to SC. Turns out Cooper called Harry to get him to join the team. Harry vacillates and Cooper lays a passive aggressive sales pitch on him, basically strong arming him to agree. Classic. The guys are sitting around trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of the business when they realize that they need someone who can guide them through all the specifics and Roger gets an idea. Call Joan! Oh yeah.

Now comes the talk to the kids as Betty and Don try to make them understand why Don is leaving for good. Understandably upset, Sally first attacks her daddy and then unleashes some venom towards her mother. This scene really drove home the point of how screwed up these kids will be with an ice princess for a mother and an apathetic father. For the first time Betty actually shows caring for her children or does she?

On his way to the Sunday night office massacre, Don visits Peggy to try one last time to get her to come to his new agency. She doesn't make it easy for him as she forces him to tell her exactly why he needs her. Don is really being put through the wringer. Don makes a heartfelt pitch to her and after some tears she relents and agrees to go with him. Clearly Peggy has daddy issues and this works in Don's favor, big time.

Joan returns to save the day and immediately starts telling the boys what they need to do. All of them and I mean all of them get super happy and by the looks on their faces fully realize that their coup might actually work. Joan knows exactly what to do and what to take and hopefully they will recognize that she is more valuable then everyone realized before. Don walk in with Peggy and they all storm the art department with Don kicking in the locked door. Then we get treated to a delightful montage of the core SC people looting and pillaging the place in the middle of the night with movers hauling stuff out at record pace. It was pretty funny that the only thing Pete took was his shotgun! Joan's arranged for "office space" at the Pierre hotel and as they leave Roger waxes nostalgic and tells Don to leave the door unlocked. The next morning Allison walks into Don's empty office and declare they've been robbed. Saint John calls up Lane and fires him from all the way across the ocean and a delighted Lane has John Hooker send him his things at their new office. Kinsey, Ken, Kurt and Smitty gather around a crying Allison to find out what happened. Great scene.

Joan is dividing up the hotel room according to department and assigns Pete and Peggy to the same desk; Harry to the bedroom; has phone lines installed and lays down some ground rules. We also hear the new agency name: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The new office is humming when Trudy comes in with sandwiches and cake for lunch and Don takes this opportunity to call Betty and pseudo apologize and tell her he won't fight her. They have a sad moment and then Don walk into the bustling "office" and beams with pride at his new family of Roger, Bert Cooper, Lane Pryce, Pete, Peggy, Joan and Harry. How could things go wrong?

The last images of the episode show Betty flying with baby Gene and Henry to Reno; Carla at home watching the kids right before Christmas and Don moving into his new furnished apartment. Why doesn't he just go home since Betty will be gone for six weeks? And thus ends the last episode this decade!

Random Thoughts:

Major kudos to Matthew Weiner and fired writer Kater Gordon for delivering such excitement and funny lines after the incredible seriousness of the last few weeks. I can't tell you how fulfilling it was to actually see most of regular gang getting along and working together. I've missed that so much!

Great idea to have crazy Conrad Hilton tell Don PPL's plans and set their devious conspiracy into motion. Why couldn't they setup office at a Hilton?

Don was epic tonight. All in one episode he was violent, stubborn, goal-oriented, humbled, conflicted and brilliant. Oh yeah and amidst of all the turmoil at work his wife is divorcing him and he had flashbacks of his father's death. Wow. It seemed like a dozen people wanted him to tell them how much they mean to him. He bares his soul and does what he does best, SELL. And we all love him for it. Jon Hamm deserves the Emmy next year, hands down. My favorite was Don burying the hatchet with Roger and them doing things together just like old times. He even got to kick a door in! Nicely done.

We now have the illustrious Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce. But the way it sounded next year it could be Sterling Cooper Draper, Pryce, Olsen, Campbell, Crane and Harris or SCDPOCCH for short. I can't wait to see what these guys to do and how far the timeline will jump ahead. So many possibilities! Since their main account is American Tobacco (Lucky Strike) that means Sal won't be coming back, booo!

It was very funny how Lane turned against his people once he found out he was lied to and Don pitched him the brilliant idea to fire them all. He immediately went into conspiracy mode and even took Don by surprise at his ferocity. Nothing like a coup to bring people together!

The whole Henry Francis and the lawyer thing with Betty was ominously suspicious. I can't shake the feeling that his forcing her to get a divorce and offering to take care of her kids was mob-like. They are going to Reno, Nevada and if memory serves that's the exact time the Corleone's are setting up shop there. I can totally see him turning psycho on Betty and forcing her to dance at the Sands hotel or something. Keep her away from Fredo!

The flashback scenes with Dick Whitman's dad was creepy and prescient. Who knew the rotten daddy died after being kicked in the head by a horse? In the present Don is trying to avoid being kicked in the head by a horse and decides to take charge of his own destiny. Or something like that.

Some great subtleties: Don appealing to Coopers vanity; Don faux apology to Roger was good enough to get him on his side; Cooper offering Lane a partnership hereby saving him from being banished to India or wherever; Don drinking at 9:30 AM; the lawyer not leaving when asked for a moment to discuss; Peggy's daddy issues; Don telling Peggy what to do at all times; Roger calling Joan to fix things; Jane obsessing about the book depository; Betty telling the kids to go upstairs as soon as Don gets home; Don finally understanding Connie's motivations; Don coming up with the whole conspiracy on the fly; Pete calling in sick to interview for a another job; Trudy bringing sandwiches to the crew and Peggy giving Pete a "look" in return; Don and Roger staring at Pete for an inordinately long time; Pete being one day away from bolting SC with all of his clients; the fact they didn't want Ken or Kinsey; Roger asking Peggy for coffee and her saying no; the look on Pete's face when he sees Peggy as a co-conspirator; Cooper asking the movers if they washed their hands; Roger telling Don not to bother to lock the door; Lane's happy-go-lucky attitude with Saint John; Joan's ground rules; Harry not remembering what room the office is in; Trudy's epic head gear; Carla being the kids new mommy and finally Betty holding baby Gene while flying across country.

Pete making his pitch for a partnership and trying to strike while the iron is hot was classic. Glad Pete was one of the chosen few. Just shows how far his relationship with Don has come. I loved how he tried to cover up his being sick and then trying get ahead of Harry off the elevator.

Peggy standing up to Don and really telling her true feelings was unexpected and oddly fulfilling. Clearly she always wants to please him but at the same time wants recognition for all her hard work. I really thought she was going to stick to her guns and not go with him but she was melted by his raw and brutal honesty. Very nice.

Another great touch was that it was Roger that was the one to tell Don about Henry Francis. I liked the way he told him. It was very honest and sad. They were once great friends and you can tell.

Don's drunken violence towards Betty was shocking and harrowing. I really thought he was gonna hit her real hard. Saved by baby Gene! When he had her by the pajama top and called her a whore she looked like she was ten years old.

I can totally see how Bert Cooper was a force to be reckoned with in his younger days. His passive aggressiveness with Harry was classic as well as his handling of Roger and Lane. He was the man!

The family conference at the Draper's was soooo sad. Bobby thought Don was leaving because he lost his cuff links and Sally lashed out at both him and Betty with fervor. Man, these kids are going to be incredibly messed up. Love how she said Betty made Don sleep in Gene's scary room with a Drew Barrymoresque lisp. Can't wait to see what she'll be like next year.

Of course we had the return of the great and powerful Joan Harris. She is so on top of things that she already made plans BEFORE she arrived. Hopefully they ALL realize that Joan is the most valuable person there and reward her accordingly. It would be great to see her and Roger together again, right? Love her ground rules about not bringing any clients to the hotel period. If they listen to her they will be on a top floor before you know it!

On the other hand, Sal didn't make an appearance as I thought he would. It does make sense they didn't call him because their main client is American Tobacco which was the company that forced his firing. Oh, well. He'll probably be around next season right? He'll just have to cruise the park a few more months!

Best Exchanges:
Cooper: "Young men love risk because they can't imagine the consequences."
Don: "And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you."

Betty: "Go upstairs"
Bobby: "But daddy just got home."
Don: "I'll be up. You want me to go to?"

Don: "Forget it. I'm not going to let you break up this family."
Betty: "I didn't break up this family."

Pete: "I want to be a partner and I want my name in the lobby."
Don: "There's not going to be a lobby."

Don: "I can't believe he was gonna leave."
Roger: "That little sh*t."

Peggy: "What if I say no? You'll never speak to me again."
Don: "No. I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you."

Roger: "Oh, I'm tired. Peggy can you get me some coffee?"
Peggy: "No."

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

Best Lines:
"I'm sick of being battered around like a ping-pong ball. Who the hell is in charge? A bunch of accountants trying to make a $1 into $1.10? I want to work. I want to build something of my own. How do you not understand that? You did it yourself 40 years ago!" - Don to Bert Cooper.

"You have absolute authority to fire anyone. Fire us."
- Don to Lane.

"Do we vote or something?" - Don to Lane, Cooper and Roger.

"I'm not really sick." - Pete to Don.

"Right when things are almost normal." - Roger to Don.

"I was gonna tell you . . . no I wasn't. I thought you knew. I'm sorry I told you, believe me." - Roger to Don.

"You won't get a nickel. And I'll take the kids. God knows they'll be better off." - Don to Betty.

"You're a whore. You know that?" - Don to Betty.

"This matter is secret and time sensitive. If you turn us down and elect to be a mid-level cog at McCann Erickson we'll have to lock you in the store room until morning. I'm sure you understand." - Cooper to Harry.

"Did you wash you hands?!" - Cooper to the movers.

"We've been robbed!" - Allison

"Accounts get the bed." - Roger to Joan

"Good morning, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. How may I help you? Yes, Harry it's room 435." - Joan answering the new office phone.

"You know, if you leave your shoes outside the door here someone polishes them."
- Roger to Cooper.

Overall, I give this outstanding episode a perfect 5 Out of 5 Lucky Strikes because of the great writing and pitch perfect acting. To say that this episode was completely satisfying is not giving it enough justice. It was the perfect end to an electrifying and glorious 3rd season. My one complaint was that there was no Sal appearance. But it was great to see all the principals together again in crisis.

This season went by way too fast. That'll happen when there are only 13 episodes!! AMC already advertised that the show is returning in the summer, let's hope it early summer and not late like this year. That way we only have to wait 7 months instead of 9 but we'll see how that plays out.

Congrats again to Matthew Weiner and the whole cast and crew for giving us many great Sunday nights, lots of water cooler conversations and for keeping us in awe for 13 weeks. A big thanks to everyone of you for reading my rants this year both on this site and on Twitter, come back once in awhile and check out my Mad Men Fodder blog for news and updates throughout the year as I'm sure there will be lots to report. Don't be a stranger!! Feel free to leave your comments below.

Now I'll have to find other ways to keep busy on these cold Sunday nights . . . Any suggestions?

-- Janaki Cedanna

Here's the inside scoop about episode 13. Enjoy!

Posted by Janaki Cedanna on November 9, 2009 12:13 AM
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