By 10:20, I was all set to declare this episode a dud, but by 10:35, I was biting my tongue. Hard.
I can’t say that I cared much about anything that happened before Don walked into his house, leaving Miss Ferrell in his car, only to find Betty and the kids home from their visit to Gene’s unsold house early. All that stuff with Ms. Mathis, the dog food lady who used to go with Roger way back in the day, felt particularly superfluous. (I’m not sure why so much time was spent developing that story, but if you’re hip to some hidden historical significance, please enlighten me.)
But back to the Draper House of Cards and its happy, happy collapse. The cat’s finally all the way out of the bag and I guess we can stop speculating about the existence of Betty’s backbone: it’s there and it’s in full effect. From demanding that Don open the desk drawer (“or I will,” she threatens, slamming the keys down on the tabletop) to asking if she’s supposed to feel sorry for him, when he confesses that he’s surprised she ever fell in love with him, she is unrelenting and full of very appropriate, very mature and assertive indignation.
To Don’s shaken “I can explain,” she volleys, “I know. I know you can. You’re a very, very gifted storyteller.”
When he walks into the kitchen after declaring that he needs a drink, she trails him and presses for answers. Then, upon seeing how terrified and pale he is at the prospect of offering them, she instructs him to sit and gets the drink for him. But it isn’t long before she’s after him again, and miraculously, right in front of our eyes, he begins to confess. (“We’re not done,” Betty declares, when the baby’s sudden cries interrupt her interrogation.)
He tells her the absolute truth—about everything, even his prostitute mother and how he was the cause of his half-brother’s suicide.
In the end, with all his confessions between them and in the wake of his broken, awkward tears, she states flatly, “I’m sorry. I am.” And she touches his back, not with affection or compassion so much as pity.
I spent so much time here because it was the most incredible scene of the episode and, arguably, the most anticipated reveal of the series. Jon Hamm, always exceptional, played defeated and penitent and relieved and terrified to the hilt. January Jones did steely and superior with grace and competence. I finally liked the Draper coupling and kind of started to root for it, rather than hoping they left each other for better partners, based on these actors’ work here.
But of course, this isn’t the only thing that happened this week, so let’s talk about the second most incredible scene of the week: Joan’s husband Greg continues to prove himself useless by bombing a psychiatry interview, for which she painstakingly helped him prep. He throws one of his trademark, cowardly tantrums, as she woodenly tries to comfort him. “You don’t know,” he yells. “You don’t know what it’s like to want something your whole life and plan for it and count on it and not get it!” Joan’s eyes go dead during this little tirade and at its end? She (awesomely) snatches a vase full of flowers from an end table, cracks him over the head with it, and storms into another room.
Later, when he comes home with one hand behind his back, he reveals flowers rather than the gun I suspected. His other revelation? He’s (stupidly) joined the army. Here, he claims, he can be a surgeon after all and “maybe” he’ll have to go somewhere, “like Vietnam, if that’s still going on…” but he assures a heartening Joan that “most surgeons don’t have to leave home, if they have families.” We realize he’s more of an idiot than we ever could’ve expected, so it’s all the more heartbreaking that Joan’s allowing her hopes to bob up to the surface again.
And in the episode’s final twist of awesome, Miss Ferrell not only has to do a walk of shame with her pitiful little weekend suitcase, when Don gets caught in the house and cornered into unearthing his darkest secrets, but she also gets dumped by phone at the end of the episode.
Based on commenter speculation this season, I’ll bet you guys don’t think we’ve seen the last of her.
Of course this week was full of other interesting little moments, but those are for you to discuss below. What did you make of Betty’s line about Don’s financial practices: “I’ve seen how you are with money; you don’t understand it.”? What about the irony of Sally and Bobby as a gypsy and hobo for Halloween? Am I alone in hating Betty’s whiny, WASP-y brother? Will Betty take her lawyer’s advice and stay in the marriage or is she plotting a getaway? Is Roger really that in love with Jane or is he fooling himself? And was I alone in thinking it was kind of sweet how he was putting in work to find Joan a new job?