Mad Men episode 713 – “The Milk and Honey Route”
17 May 2015 — Don continues his meandering, but he clears a hurdle along the way. Pete looks back on his life and then looks ahead. Betty gets some fateful news.
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Don calls Sally from a motel in Kansas. He mentions visiting the Grand Canyon, but I think that his ultimate destination is San Francisco. In “New Business” (708), Diana tells him that she had “flipped a coin” to decide between New York and San Francisco. Don has enough delusion and determination to find her if she’s there, but he also has the perspective to “move forward” if it doesn’t happen.
Sooner or Later
Based on the radio broadcast that plays when the car breaks down, Don is stranded in Oklahoma. The setting is possibly symbolic because of the state’s Sooner nickname, which refers to settlers who had claimed parts of the state before doing so had been legal. Basically, a Sooner is a historical thief. Andy and Don are thieves, too.
Despite her injury, Betty recognizes the joke referring to The Graduate (1967) when the unsuspecting nurse addresses her as “Mrs Robinson.”
The Thirsts are Real
First, Don pays $10 to Andy for some booze. Next, Don leers at the sunbathing woman whose husband and kids later appear. He only manages to quench one of his thirsts, for now.
The books that Don has on his bed are The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton and Hawaii by James Michener. The book that the sunbather has on her lap is The Woman of Rome by Alberto Moravia.
Don lies when he says his final rank in the Army, and later, the other Korean War vet makes sure to see Don’s face when they meet. These scenes build suspense for the revelation of Don’s crime, which is shown in “Nixon vs Kennedy” (112), but his drunken admission and the vets’ support are the epitome of an anti-climax. Nevertheless, they’re in line with the way that other notable events have unfolded in these final seven episodes.
We’ll Be in Kansas Soon
The Learjet job that Duck pitches to Pete is presumably the one that Duck mentions in “The Better Half” (609); He hasn’t named the company until now, but he’s told Pete that it’s “a head of marketing job in Wichita that you’d be perfect for.” It seems that the job is perfect for Pete because it inspires him to reassess his life and reaffirm his love for Trudy.
Bye Bye Birdie
Considering the amount of smoking that’s happened, it’s not surprising for one of the staple characters to get lung cancer. Mad Men has shown the consequences of actions, both short-term and long-term. Betty’s reaction to her diagnosis is defeatist on one hand and resilient on the other hand. It’s a total contrast to her prolonged mourning following her mother’s death, as seen in “Ladies Room” (102), “Babylon” (106), and “Red in the Face” (107).
Betty’s final instructions for Sally, dated October 3, 1970, are both vain and pragmatic, but most important of all, they’re reassuring. I’ve never agreed with the vitriol that exists on the web for Betty and I’m glad that she’s gained bravery and wisdom to keep living.