Mad Men, Season 3, Ep. 10: The Color Blue.

Web of LIES!

Web of LIES!

Whew! Talk about your gamechangers!

Sterling Cooper will be sold! Betty finally unlocks Don’s Drawer O’ Drama! Paul finally realizes Peggy is his superior in every way!

It’s enough to make you wish for a longer season. With only three episodes between us and the finale, Weiner & Co. are really starting to tip their hand. And I couldn’t be happier.

Let’s start with Sally’s ongoing awesomeness. First she blows up the Draper family spot by asking Betty why they only go to church at Christmas. “Carla goes every week,” she notes. Betty’s response is typically condescending and loaded: “We don’t need to go every week.” (Note Carla in the background, continuing to give her customary smirks and side-eyes.) What unmitigated gall, insinuating that Blacks need weekly atonement, while the Drapers are pristine enough to get by on a once-a-year roll-through.

Don, of course, continues disproving that theory, right up the street. As telegraphed ever since her character’s introduction, things are getting pretty complicated pretty quickly with Miss Ferrell. The lovey-doveys were sweet while they lasted; Ferrell moons that she wishes she knew Don at eight (“I’ll bet you were serious.” Spot on.) and he wistfully volleys that he would’ve liked her and her long curly hair. “No one has that anymore,” he laments.

I’m sure I’m alone in this, but I’ve always enjoyed watching Don’s affairs unfold (with the notable exception of that comedian’s wife he assaulted in Season 2; they were incompatible and deplorable together). From the hippie to Rachel Mencken to Miss Ferrell, Don lets slip all kinds of vulnerability and romanticism with his women on the side. It’s the kind of thing that makes me remember why he deserves to be the anchor of this show and I love the dividedness I feel: Don’s at his best when he isn’t with his wife; ironically, his affairs are what string me along, holding out hope that he’s redeemable.

I didn’t love the business with Ferrell’s epileptic brother, so I’ll leave that for you guys to hash out if you so choose. What I did find interesting about his exchange with Don was how Don tried to use him to exorcise the lingering guilt he feels about his own brother’s suicide. Was it an effective parallel? Maybe, even if heavy-handed. When he said, half to himself, half to the young man: “I promised myself I’d try to do this right once,” he could be talking about the affair or about being a decent human being, and I dug that.

I have to briefly return to Sally’s aforementioned awesomeness here: I looooved the short scene where Sally asks to answer the phone and Betty smiles, amused and almost doting: “If you do it right.” Then the caller hangs up, both Betty and Don look mad shifty, and Betty’s good humor sharply 180s: “Sally Draper, try not to take things so personally!” Sally: “Jeez Louise!”

I know I’ve said in recaps past that I find Sally grating, but I have to admit; she’s starting to grow on me.

Personally, I think Miss Ferrell’s lying about not being the prank caller. Her eyes are a bit duplicitous in the subway scene of forbiddenly interlaced fingers.

Henry Francis certainly has no reason to lie, when Betty tries to use the hang-up as an excuse to reconnect with him. Typically direct, he insists that if she intends to get in touch with him, she should use thin pretense. I really wished this would be the scene where Betty’s veneer of stale adolescence eroded, but of course she ends the scene pouting, as usual.

But wait! Maybe her fantasy world of princesses and fairies is evaporating after all. She grins like a kid sneaking a pre-dinner cookie, notably wearing plaid capris and a headband that play up her bobbysoxer side, when she finds the key to Don’s Drawer O’ Drama. But after spending just minutes with the box, pawing all its pictures and dog tags and unmarked bills, her tremulous fingers topple it (in a callback to the nervous condition of Season 1).

What must she have been thinking, while she futilely waited, with her requisite wine and cigarette, for Don to return home? Maybe she was summoning the same steely resolve that led her kick him out last season. But with hours to think, when the impulse and righteous indignation dulled to a simmer, she knew she wasn’t quite ready. She’d rather play make-believe a little while longer; it’s easier.

Onto office matters. Paul Kinsey is such a tool. I love it. I knew, as pretentious jazz wafted out of his office and he tried to prove himself a friend of the working class by bonding with Achilles (who he immediately shushed moments later, realizing his own presumed genius), that he’d screw himself over. “Write it down!” I yelled at the screen. “Write it down, you big faux-commie oaf!”

Like a puppy he had to humble himself to Peggy, who’s also experiencing a crisis of creative insecurity (… or is she?). Initially, neither of them landed ideas in front of Don, then once again taking one of Paul’s premises and finessing it into something lovely, Peggy came up with “A telegram is forever” for Western Union and Paul, for once, is speechless.

Does Peggy need Paul? Not necessarily. Does Paul need Peggy? Absolutely. When, earlier in the ep, he simpers: “You’re spontaneous and you’re a girl and [Don] loves you!” he nails the quality that makes Peggy a better copywriter than he: spontaneity. He also has to concede, as he watches her work that, just as he whined, her “being a woman won’t help her with Western Union.” So maybe now he can shut up about it.

Because I don’t care about the woes of the British couple—at all—I’ll move on to Roger. How telling was his little monologue to Bertram: “I found him. Working in a fur company… in night school? And that girl, Betty? Mona said they looked like they were on top of our wedding cake…. Screw him.”

Yes, he’s a hater. But if you boil that down to its essence, even though he doesn’t know that Don is Dick, he knows that Don (and Betty and their marriage) are kind of a crock. At least, he seems to be arguing with himself, he’s upfront and unapologetic about who he really is.

Later, as he delivers his award introduction, he publicly drives home just how over Don he really is, beginning to tick off Don’s previous accolades before blurting, “I’m not reading all of this” and faux-playfully tossing the script to the side.

“And now the man who will stand beside me for the next forty years…” Roger intones hollowly, ominously.

Meanwhile: “Sterling Cooper is for sale.” Um, shots fired.


slb (aka Stacia L. Brown) is a writer, mother, and college instructor in Baltimore, MD. Check her out here: and here:
  • lemu

    A few things….

    I think its better than Don didn’t go home to find Betty waiting for him. She has no idea on how to approach this new information about Don, but its a lingering feeling shes had for sometime. Don’s house of cards has to fall somehow, but I wish it would have unraveled a little more subtle, than betty finding the keys to Don’s Drama Drawer.

    It would have been funny if Peggy walked in on Paul Masterbating. That would have been great television. lol.

    The thing that Don doesn’t realize about passionate people, is that there is no off switch. They go 110% for everything. When she showed up on the train and wanted him to say that he was with her, he should have gave her the “Chill baby girl, my girl is here (c) Jayz” look and slowly backed away. She was clearly the person who called and hung up, and had the nerve to lie about it. Don is digging his own grave with this one, and I can’t wait to see how he gets out.

    Regarding Ferrells brother, that was the one honest moment we got out of Don this entire episode. Hes not a perfect man, but was trying not to let someone slip through the cracks on his watch. It was an emotional 3 seconds.

    Fuck Roger Sterling.

    I’m starting to really like the British dude. Hes a good man just trying to live his life right.

  • ladyfresh

    Is Paul married? I’d like to see him with Peggy..oddly. I guess it depends on how he handles the fact that Peggy is better than him at this job.

    I do not like the Ferrells at all. Don is playing a dangerous game too close to home.

    I actually loved Lane’s term ‘Ballad of dissatisfaction’ so apt. I felt like in the cab he figured smoeone should be happy and told her the news in the attempt to make her happy. They are so disconnected from each other it reflects Dona and Betty in that respect.

    omg they are selling sterling and right when they got Don to sign. That’s just foul.

  • quadmoniker

    I really hate the stuff with teacher’s brother and, for that matter, hate just about everything that has to do with teacher. I don’t think Don’s any more honest with his women than anyone else, I just think it’s a different part of the half-truths he tells people. And the juxtapositions were a little too much; he’s cuddled up with his lover while Betty reads in the bath, he’s cuddled up with his lover while Betty does the laundry in rollers. We get it. Men and women had different lives. Men married women for reasons other than love and happiness, men value domestic certainty and women they can show off at company dinners. Little done with being hit over the head with it.

    But everything that happened at Sterling Cooper was fabulous, I really like the new Peggy and Paul dynamic, and I liked Don spending some time being the boss again. And at the end, I really liked Betty finding the key to his drawer. I thought her reaction was spot on, after hours waiting, she puts the keys back where she found them and decides she’s going to hold this closer to her chest.

  • slb

    The teacher’s brother reminded me way too much of Betty’s brother. They had that same runty, overcompensating personality that just grates on a nerve.

    Also: you may be right that he isn’t any more honest, but a. I find these half-truths more interesting than his regularly spun ones and b. he *does* seem far more vulnerable with these women than he does with his wife and because I tend to forget that he’s capable of real vulnerability (as opposed to being sociopathic), I enjoy the depiction of his relationships with other women.

  • temi

    Love how Don being with the teacher saved his ass(for now). In the end I don’t think it’s that big a deal. She let her husband keep a locked drawer that she didn’t know the contents of and doesn’t ask him questions about his past. She’s probably relived that it wasn’t worse.

    Good call Peggy, she remembered the drawer with all his ideas written on scraps and knew he would understand.

    Lol at Roger and Don being so resentful of each other.

  • I take back everything I said last week. Everything.

  • Scipio Africanus

    I’m not the only one that sees that Duck is going to step in and orchestrate the purchase of Sterling Cooper, right?

  • keke

    I loved that Betty found the key and opened the drawer. She has been wanting to get in that drawer since the first season. But I still don’t know if she is sure about what she found. Does she believe that her husband is indeed Don Draper and that he was once married? Or was she able to piece together that Don Draper is actually Dick Whitman. Some people I have talked to seem to think that she knows the truth, I happen to think she saw that divorce decree and believes that Don/Dick was married to another woman before Betty.

    I have known from the beginning that the teacher seemed innocent and pure but was wrong for Don, but I still like her. She is passionate, a little too clingy, possibly a stalker and she is beginning to cause chaos….Don deserves it. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I like about Don Draper but he has had it coming.

    I loved seeing more of Roger Sterling this episode. He was hilarious in his scene with Bert Cooper.

    The scene with Lane and Cooper was great! And now the SCoop is up for sale again, who will be the highest bidder? What if Duck’s ad agency puts in a bid and acquires SCoop… that would be interesting seeing that Don has signed a contract this year.

  • lemu

    Good call. That would be an interesting spin.

  • Paul’s single–wasn’t he dating a black girl last season? He flirted with Peggy back when she was a secretary but it didn’t go anywhere.

  • Long time lurker here.

    I am *so happy* to see some validation of the fabulousness of Sally. I just started watching the series a few weeks ago, tearing through Seasons 1 and 2, and she has become my favorite character of late.

    Don is more interesting with most of his ladyfriends than he is with Betty, but count me on the “do not want” list for teacherlady, who I fear may have some serious Crazy Stalker Chick tendencies going on. The brother was unnecessary. Also unnecessary: Whiny British Wife. So there’s no traffic or rudeness or whatever in London? Really?

    I actually wanted Betty and Don to have it out. Yeah, I agree that she probably wouldn’t have handled it super well, but I like seeing her actually angry about something concrete and valid instead of the way she’s been roaming around snapping at the children and being a general beeyotch about EVERYTHING since Season 2. I was disappointed that she caved about going to the banquet.

    I still reluctantly like the casual trainwreck that is Roger Sterling.

  • ladyfresh

    i remember the girlfriend but i figured they skipped a couple of years ahead between seasons so i wasnt sure anymore

  • I just wanted to hop in and let you guys know that this is BY FAR my favorite Mad Men recap online, thanks to the fab readings of each episode and the commenters’ insights. I wait eagerly every week for you to post this.

  • I agree w/you – I think Betty is only thinking about Don being divorced; she hasn’t put together that he’s Dick. Little does he know…

    I LOVE Roger S. That was a great scene w/Bert. As for Lane and his wife, I loved his comment about being in the US for 10 months and no one yet asking him what school he went to, when his wife was lamenting NYC not being London. Ha!

    Teacher story line…yep, she definitely seems a little off.

  • Zesi

    I can’t get with Don’s latest affair.
    Little Sally Draper’s teacher? I mean, really?

  • drush76

    [“I’m sure I’m alone in this, but I’ve always enjoyed watching Don’s affairs unfold (with the notable exception of that comedian’s wife he assaulted in Season 2; they were incompatible and deplorable together).”]

    Why? Why do you feel that Don’s affair with Bobbie Barrett was deplorable? Because it wasn’t romanticized?

  • slb

    I didn’t like their relationship because it wasn’t built on mutual attraction so much as professional/emotional blackmail. Whether with the beatnik, Rachel, or this new chick, there’s been (at least in the beginning) admiration, respect, infatuation, *something* that shows us a more vulnerable, temporarily happy Don. It felt like Bobbie and Don were out to destroy each other.