Mad Men “Field Trip” Review (7×03)

28 Apr

Mad Men - Episode 7.03 - Field Trip - Promotional Photos (5)


Don Draper is paying for his actions. He’s suffering. He’s humiliated. Yet, at the same time, he’s not. “Field Trip” is a moving, compelling episode of television that effortlessly transitions into a new power situation, and it’s yet another installment in a final season that’s shaping up to be brilliant.

First things first: that extended sequence at SC&P is brilliantly written, perfectly capturing all the awkwardness and the tension of the various interactions that ensue after Don walks in. Through him, we also explore every other character in the office, and we get a sense of just how humiliating of a position he’s in: he’s lost another wife, is constantly gawked at, and is read a list of stipulations that the old Don Draper would never have taken (Lane Pryce’s room. How ominous). As we know from the first two episodes, this season’s all about power grabs, and fittingly, the conversation surrounding his return is all about what it means for the advertising.

For example, although Roger exhibits signs of loyalty toward Don–some really excellent scenes between the two in the episode–when we get down to it, it’s all about power in the end, about what’s most expedient for the company. Don may be a “genius”, but as much as the creatives will bombard him with questions as he walks through the door, it’s all about his advertising genius; it’s not about personal connection or feelings or the like, but rather what his return means for Peggy’s power struggles or the Roger-Cutler conflict. Don’s now reduced to a script-reading robot, actually restricted from drinking now–as opposed to his own efforts in the first two episodes–and having to report to Lou, the very person who’s smothered his parallel figure: Peggy.

Yet, the excellent thing about this season is that it really seems like a turning point for Don, or at least more of an understanding of what he needs to do to get his life on track. Nothing’s changed–he ties love to work again with Megan, and work to his desire to change with SC&P–but everything’s changed: there’s a genuine aspect to his behavior I haven’t seen beforehand. He needs them, and they need him. The past is catching up to Don and he’s paying for his actions from past and present, but there’s a new kind of honesty we’re seeing that’s just so compelling to watch. That final scene is a powerful moment: rich, complex, and moving, and it sets up what should be some intriguing storylines moving forward.

Elsewhere, Jessica Paré also does her best work yet, ending things with Don not because he lost his job, but because, as I said above, he equates love with getting his career back on track. Fittingly, what brings him to her is a concern for her in regards to her work, and she’s finally had enough; his intentions are good, but he still has misguided views.

Don’s storyline is paralleled with Betty’s, the comparison of which can be summarized by her “Why don’t my kids love me?” That same idea applies to her former husband, someone who’s finally doing something right, but isn’t getting the results he wants. In fact, her trip with Bobby to the farm mirrors Don’s time with Sally last week; it’s the result that’s different. For, as cool as Betty tries to be, and as much as Bobby worships her, she sees the sandwich-trade as a sign of rejection, as a sign that she’s losing the love of her son; she’s essentially lost her daughter, and now she’s feeling alone. She accepts this pre-conceived idea.

Don also accepts at the end of the episode. He knows he must acquiesce. He knows he’s desperate. However, he also knows what he has to do to. He expects the restrictions, and who knows? Maybe that’s exactly what he needs. So, he’ll go along with SC&P for now, and in a simple word, he captures what makes Mad Men great.



-*First scene of the next episode*

Bert Cooper: …wait, really?

-I was taken aback at first by Joan’s reaction, but after thinking about it for a bit, it makes sense. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I understand it.

“You have stiff competition, but I believe you to be the most dishonest man I’ve ever met.”

-That intercut between the apartment and Don going into work is brilliantly done.

-Loved Ken’s reaction to Don returning.

Photo credit: AMC, Mad Men


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