“Mad Men”: Episode 11, “The Gypsy and the Hobo”

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For a week, after the cliffhanger ending of “The Color Blue” as Don was showered with applause, I’ve been imagining the fireworks that were sure to erupt when Betty finally confronted him with all the ammunition she gathered from the desk drawer. I was thinking of mega histrionics, screaming, furniture flying, glass breaking, binge drinking, etc.

I should’ve known better. When it really matters, this show is rarely predictable. That the showdown in “The Gypsy and the Hobo” between Betty and Don would come in whispers, in dimly lit rooms through gritted teeth — fantastic. It was not at all what I expected but it was so right; kudos to scribes Marti Noxon, Cathryn Humphris and Matthew Weiner and helmer Jennifer Getzinger.

I’ve been hard on Betty this season, but she regained her humanity in this seg because she wasn’t a screaming banshee. In fact, she was as good as Don could’ve hoped for — much better than he deserved, what with his latest lover waiting in the car outside the house. The fact that Suzanne finally crawled away in the cold, dark night was just right too. A confrontation with Betty would’ve distracted from the real drama unfolding between a wife and husband coming to grips with the fact that she doesn’t really know him, nor trust him, at all. “You’re a very, very gifted storyteller,” Betty tells him. And she knows his predilection for bailing when the going gets rough: “Are you thinking of what to say or are you just looking at that door?”

Betty was obviously considering staying a lot longer than a week in Philadelphia while she sorted out her future and her father’s estate. Her exchange with the family lawyer was rough to hear on a human rights level — the idea that a woman seeking a divorce in those days would basically be up a creek without a paddle — but again, it rang true. The lawyer did give her sound advice. (Didn’t it sound like he called her “Betsy”?)

For Don, I think that after the immediate W-T-F? shock of the confrontation with Betty (loved the scene when he staggers out from his den into the kitchen), he was still trying to work his best Don Draper mojo on her right up until the moment in the bedroom where she asks him about “Adam.” Even as he was taking her through the story of his tortured parental experience, he didn’t volunteer that he had a half-brother until she pressed him about the “boy in the pictures.”

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  1. JoeS says:

    The scene with Roger and Annabelle in the break room is absolutely golden. I can’t recall seeing such a range, depth, and breadth of emotion both deep, subtle, precarious, fragile, pained, on and on… Yeah, been there, done that. That’s about as real as it is.

  2. Rosie says:

    “Can we please not forget that Joan’s worthless husband raped her at the office? I can’t believe some people are calling HER “brutish.””
    Joan had hit Greg over the head with a vase . . . in a fit of anger. How else can I describe it? She wasn’t exactly defending herself.

  3. anm says:

    Can we please not forget that Joan’s worthless husband raped her at the office? I can’t believe some people are calling HER “brutish.”

  4. Rosie says:

    “I mean, I generally don’t condone violence but Greg had it coming to him since last season, dammit.”
    You know, I keep reading similar comments about how others don’t condone violence, but Greg had it coming. I have to admit I’m getting tired of it.
    I don’t like Greg. At all. But I didn’t care for what Joan had done, either. All she did was prove that she could be just as violent and brutish as her husband. Unlike many others, I didn’t see her actions as some sign of feminine empowerment. I don’t care how popular her character is. I didn’t like her brutish behavior.
    As for Don, I noticed one thing. He had failed to tell Betty that he had deliberately switched dog tags with the real Don Draper. Instead, he claimed that the Army had made a mistake. Hmmm. Even in his hour of “pure truth”, he could still lie like a champ.

  5. SJR says:

    best line was at the very end when the parent looks at Don and says “who are you supposed to be”

  6. Wallace says:

    I think there a couple of insights into Don that warrant comment. First, upon finding that Betty has come home early and with his girlfriend in his car outside he initially tries to make an excuse (he left his hat in the car) to get back to the car to deal with her and also tells Betty he’s going back to town for a “cleint dinner”. As soon as he realizes how serious the matter is with Betty, he never again considers his girlfriend in the car and says he’s not going anywhere. He puts the Betty matter and her obvious anger and angst first. Second, when his son asks if he’s going trick-or-treating with them, he says he is and later is seen doing so. I suggest this may say that Don, despite his rather loathsome dimensions, is at heart someone who really does love his wife and kids and will in a crisis put them first. Are his infidelities, drinking, etc. really his nature or is he conforming to the norms of the times for an ambitious, fast rising business executive?

  7. Jim says:

    Simply brilliant! The show never gives way to the obvious (take note “Desperate Housewives”). That is why it is Best Drama 2 years running…

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