Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13 Recap: Milk and Honey

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Sunday on Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13, Pete was blindsided by a friend, while Don battled insomnia and Henry planned a family reunion.

How did all of the aforementioned storylines and more play out on the penultimate installment of the iconic AMC series? Let's break it down ...

As expected, in the second to last episode of the Mad Men series, things aren’t looking good.  Well, unless you are Pete.

Pete, who has been a prickly, unlikable character for most of the series, might be the only character who lucks out before the series finale.

On his way into his new office at McCann, Pete has a surprise visit from Duck.  Duck and Pete exchange formalities before getting into Duck’s shady business proposal.

Duck—needing money since resigning from Sterling Cooper after organizing a backdoor merger with Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe—asks Peter to meet with private aviation company, Learjet.

Learjet, according to Duck, is in need of a senior marketing executive.  He doesn’t necessarily think Pete will take the job.  But he wants to prove to Learjet that they need an ad exec and provide the company with a top candidate.

Duck seems anxious and untrustworthy as he barges into Peter’s office.  A former alcoholic, he heads straight to Peter’s alcohol stash and makes a drink.  And he claims, if Pete will do this he will make enough to get through winter.

It looks like things aren't going so well for Duck, and he’d do anything to make a buck.  But in any case, at minimum, Duck can prove they need an advertising exec, and Pete can put in a word for McCann.  Win-win?

If Pete has proven one thing throughout the series it is that he cares about upward mobility in his profession.  He might throw anyone under the bus, but he does care about his job.

So, initially hesitant, Pete refuses.  If fact, he appears to have settled into his new role at McCann.  But after some persuasion, Pete gives in to his old friend.

What Pete didn’t see coming was that this ploy would reunite him with his ex-wife, Trudy,

After meeting with Learjet and going through dinner/interview process, Pete lands the job, and he wants it.

He comes to Trudy’s house at 4a.m. and begs her to move to Wichita where he is starting his new job.  Trudy responds to his plea with a passionate kiss.

Of all the characters to have a happy ending, it is surprising that it is Pete.  His behavior throughout the season, at best, has been repulsive.  His cutthroat and often secretive behavior (think fathering a child with Peggy) has branded him an unlikable character.

It is frustrating that Pete is the one with a happy ending.  But really, in some ways it makes the most sense.

Pete might be the only character who consistently sees a better future.  Of course, Peggy and Joan believe this, but the cultural climate is too full of limitations for women.

When Pete meets with his brother, Pete says, “You are always looking for something better.”  But so is Pete.  Although his behavior is often self-indulgent, it is because he believes his life and career have more to offer.  

His hopefulness is shrouded in his own ego.  Still, outside of Peggy and Joan, he might be the only character with true hope and a vision for the future—even if it is a little cocky.

While the rest of the characters have been living in stasis within their own misery, Pete sees the future as flexible and changeable.

So maybe it is not so surprising after all that he might be the only character—so far—who will have a happy and new ending.  We just wish it was someone with more character and integrity like Peggy or Joan.

Betty may have seen hope for the future when she decided to go to graduate school.  However, her future is cut short when she finds out she has advanced, terminal lung cancer.

After falling up a flight a steps at school, an x-ray for a broken rib shows she has lung cancer that has spread and metastasized to the bone.

Betty handles this like she handles everything else.  Emotionlessly and coldly.

When Henry brings Sally home from boarding school to convince her mother to undergo treatment, Betty angrily walks past Sally without saying hello.  Like usual, Betty doesn’t want to talk about it.

Later, Betty wakes Sally to talk.  Sally tells her mother that the news of her cancer scared her.  Betty responds, “It shouldn’t have scared you.”  She continues, “Sally, I’ve learned to believe people when they tell you it’s over.  To know when to move on.”

Unlike Pete, Betty is not a fighter.  She can’t envision a better future. Most of her endeavors ended against her will or desire.  Her life has been full of short successes followed by enormous letdowns, such as her modeling career and first marriage.  

Everyone has always told Betty “it’s over.”  And she has always moved on without resistance.

Betty never learned to fight.  Betty has consistently allowed everyone to make choices for her.  Now, in a time where she has to take action to survive, she won’t.

Sally is put in a terrible position as a young woman.  She is already expected to act like the adult of the family.  For instance, she comforts Henry as he sobs about Betty’s prognosis. And she takes care of her little brothers while Henry and Betty fight.

When Betty gives Sally a letter with directions for what to do after she dies, Sally is forced into a mature responsibility again.  This leaves us with a version of Sally that is thrust into adulthood under terrible circumstances.

Her transformation at boarding school leaves us hoping Sally has a bright future.  But Betty (and Don) have set Sally up for a challenging transition into adulthood.

On Mad Men Season 7 Episode 12, Don left a Wednesday meeting and didn’t come back.

We meet Don again; this time in Kansas.  After being duped into going to a fundraiser for a man who burned down his kitchen, Don is the victim of a con artist.

Andy, an employee of the hotel he is staying at, stole the fundraiser money and made it look like Don was the culprit.

So what does Don do?  He gives Andy a ride.  When he is about drop Andy off at the bus stop, Don changes his mind.  He gets out and gives Andy the car.

We are left with Don sitting alone at a bus stop.

It is unclear where Don is going.  But if I were a betting lady, I’d say he isn't headed back to New York.

What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments below, and as always, you can watch Mad Men online at TV Fanatic to see it in its entirety.

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