Mad Men: "Secret's Out"

    “Happy Halloween, everyone!” That was the first message I received from last night’s episode, when we saw Sally and Bobby Draper excitedly prepare for some trick-or-treating. This episode unfortunately did not revolve around Halloween (though it did return to the holiday for one spectacular closing scene, which I will get to later). Regardless, this was a spectacular episode — perhaps the best of the season — in which Don’s secret identity is finally revealed to Betty.

    Before I discuss the revelation that dominated the latter half of the episode, I should probably go over the episode’s main subplot. Annabelle Mathis, a former Sterling-Cooper client and CEO of a dog food company, returned to Sterling-Cooper after a Marilyn Monroe film, The Misfits, gave her product a bad name (if you haven’t seen that movie, don’t. It’s awful). It was quickly revealed that Annabelle had some romantic history with Roger that she wanted to resume. Roger did not want to restart the affair, as he was very much in love with his new wife Jane. I did not expect this mark of integrity for the typically promiscuous Roger; his fidelity has caused me to look at his new marriage in a new light.

    Joan got some screen-time too, which is always great. While her husband Greg was off doing interviews to be a psychiatrist, Joan was taking advantage of her connections to Roger in order to get some work. Their conversation was witty (Roger: “I rearranged the secretaries alphabetically.” Joan: “By cup size?”) yet also very sweet. Joan and Roger obviously are deeply fond of each other. Greg expectedly flopped his interviews and complained to Joan that she had no idea what it was like to prepare for something all your life and not obtain it. Joan explained to Greg that she did understand such disappointment by subtly HITTING HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH A ROSE VASE. I love the violence in Mad Men: it’s always so small, yet so shocking. Greg made peace with Joan by episode’s end, when he told her that he had finally found his calling as a military surgeon. Seeing as how the Vietnam War is right around the corner, I think this might be the last we see of Greg.

    Betty ended her trip with her family to surprise Don at home, just as he was about to go on a weeklong vacation with Miss Farrell. I was worried that the show would prolong this conflict by having Betty keep quiet. Fortunately, Betty compelled Don to open his desk before revealing all: “You know I know what’s in there.” Don was an emotional wreck; I was half-expecting him to have a heart attack at the kitchen sink. Betty furiously peppered him with questions, yet she was not without some compassion. Betty offering Don a drink was a touching moment of subtle generosity. Don went over the details of what he was storing. When telling Betty about his late younger brother, Don — for the first time in the series, I think — cried. This episode is Jon Hamm’s Emmy reel.

    Betty, whether out of love or pragmatism, stayed with Don and the Draper family went out trick-or-treating. The finale scene showed the Drapers knock on the door of one man who fawned over Sally and Bobby’s costumes. Then he looked up at Don and joked “And who are you supposed to be?” Don kept on smiling, yet if that final shot was held any longer, I’m sure his head would have exploded.

    Best line of the night: As Betty talked to her lawyer Milton about potentially leaving Don, he informed her that she would have no rights or privileges. Milton then informed her that if Don wasn’t abusive or poor, Betty should suck it up and stay with him. “That’s what I tell my own daughter.” Sad commentary on the lack of female autonomy in this time period? Um, sure. Brilliantly satirical line that makes you laugh-out-loud while feeling smart for doing so? Hell yes!

    What did you all think? Was this the best episode of the season? Is this the last we’ve seen of Dick Whitman? How awesome would it have been if, during that emotionally-fused moment when Don was sobbing and Betty caressed him, Miss Farrell walked in?


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