Mad Men: “The Inheritance”

This episode kicks off with Pete reading a list of companies that will have a presence at an aerospace convention in Los Angeles. Sterling Cooper will have a presence there, too. Don says that “every engineer, scientist, and general will be there trying to figure out how to put a man on the moon… or blow up Moscow, whichever one costs more.” Don appoints Pete to be the Talker and Paul to be the Listener. They are not only to look for “traditional” advertising business, but also to look for Congressmen trying to get funding for projects. Sterling Cooper will gladly help members of Congress in “selling” their plans to the public. Awesome. He then blasts Paul and Pete for not reading the material that Peggy had put together. “Maybe I should send her”, Don laments.

Later that night, Trudy begs Pete to take her to Los Angeles with him. Pete declines, to which Trudy says that she will go to her parent’s home in Rehoboth (Delaware?) while he is away. Pete asks why, and Trudy says that her parents are concerned… thus, bringing up the whole “baby thing” again. If I were Pete, I guess I’d be ticked off, too. I mean, sure… Trudy is pretty hot, in an “Emmy Rossum is hot” kind of way… but the constant nagging about having a baby would drive me crazy too! Trudy brings up adoption, while Pete decries as “unnatural”.

At around the same time, Betty calls Don at his hotel. Betty’s father has had a stroke. He’s “up and around and talking”, but Betty’s relatives refused to put him on the phone. Don says that he’ll come get her that moment. Betty refuses, saying that she doesn’t want to wake the kids. Don says that everything will be OK, and that he’ll pick her up at 8am the next morning.

The next morning, the Drapers arrive at her father’s house a few minutes ahead of her brother William. Betty’s father Gene initially recognizes Betty and Don. In fact, he seems almost completely normal. That is, until Betty mentions that they should have called her (Betty) earlier, as Don knows some great doctors in New York. This causes William to roll his eyes and talk about “oh yes, the great doctors in New York, where everything’s better”. It also causes Gene to mistake Betty for Ruthie, his deceased wife (and Betty’s mother). Betty then asks Gene what the doctors said, to which her dad says “ah, it’s just like last time”. Betty, who had no idea that he’d had one before, freaks. Gene tells her that it’s just “a couple of little strokes” and that it’s not a big deal.

Meanwhile, Sheila shows up at Sterling Cooper looking for Paul, who makes a big deal out of kissing his black girlfriend on the cheek. Pete then spills the beans about him and Paul going to Los Angeles. This surprises Sheila, who thought she’d be going with Paul to Mississippi to register black voters. Oooops! But then that’s Pete’s job isn’t it: telling people stuff they’re not supposed to know yet!

Later that same day, Pete and his brother Bud go over his father’s inheritance to see how truly broke the family is. Pete finds all that the property he had hoped to inherit has been sold and the money squandered. Things are so desperate that Pete ponders “taking back” a contribution to Lincoln Center until Bud tells him that you just can’t do that. Pete wonders how his mother will live, then makes a reference to the Hitchcock film Rope (yet another of the dozens of Hitchcock references in the show). After toasting to “the end of the line”, Pete asks Bud if he wants kids. He then tells Bud that they’re thinking about adopting. However, instead of Bud dissing on adoption (as Pete wanted for “reinforcement”), Bud simply says that “people do that”.

Back at Gene’s house, Betty and William have a “bitch session” about Gloria, their new stepmom. Actually, Betty is resentful of Gloria, and William likes her, as she’s taking the burden of caring for Gene off his shoulders. William, apparently, is resentful of Don, his job in Manhattan, and all his money. Betty is also resentful of William and Gloria taking all of the “nice things” from around the house. There’s a lot of resentment going on there.

Don, meanwhile, works on a jigsaw puzzle with Gene and Judy, Betty’s little sister. Gene starts ranting about Don, how he doesn’t have a “real” job. Gene even drives his point uncomfortably close to home by saying that “[Don] has no people! You can’t trust a person like that!” Ouch! The family then heads off to have dinner. Betty says that she’s not hungry. Don says “you’ve got to eat, Birdie”. Betty says “Stop it Don, nobody’s watching”. Double ouch!

Next, Pete shows up at his mom’s house to sign all the papers concerning his father’s death. Bud, however, has apparently spilled the beans about Pete’s possible adoption. Pete’s mom says that he won’t get a dime if he adopts. Pete, knowing that she’s broke, doesn’t care. He and his mother snipe back and forth a few times, and it’s clear that his mom has no idea that she’s broke. So Pete drops a bomb of his own: he tells him mother that the money’s all gone. And when Bud tells her that he had to sell everything “to ensure her further comfort”, the look of shock on her face is unbelievable.

Later that night, the Drapers decide to stay at Gene’s house. Betty makes Don sleep on the floor of her old room… only to come to him in the middle of the night for sex:

I don’t get it, either. Things only get stranger for Betty the next morning at breakfast. Gene mistakes Betty for Ruth yet again… this time grabbing one of her breasts and propositioning her! Later that morning, Betty has some “girl talk” with Viola, the housekeeper. Betty says that she doesn’t know how much more she can take. Viola, in her role as the “Magic Negro“, tells Betty that her responsibility now is to her husband and children.

In the next scene, we see the Drapers returning to their home in Ossining. Don offers to take the bags upstairs. Betty refuses. Don offers to pick up the kids. Betty refuses. Don wants to take a shower. Betty refuses. Don and Betty have a conversation about him coming home. Betty says that they were “just pretending” at Gene’s house. Don leaves. What a bitch!

The next morning, Don shows up at the office, but can’t find anyone. They’re all in a conference room having a baby shower for Harry. Joan points out all of Harry’s gifts… which include Lucky Strikes, Martinson Coffee, Clearasil and Pampers – all Sterling Cooper clients that have sent over tons of their products. “You raided the store room for me!”, Harry says. A lot happens in this scene: Harry is then presented a gift from Tiffany’s; the gift is “from Jane”, but Paul jokes that Roger had to be in on it too. So Jane and Roger are together. I still think he’ll end up with Joan. Anyway, after that line, Joan walks up to one of the girls to ask her to cut the cake. Due to the camera angle, we think she’s asking Peggy, but when the camera changes we see that it’s one of the office girls and that, to hand the knife to the girl, Joan has to awkwardly hand the knife off behind Peggy’s back. It’s shot very deliberately, to draw attention to the fact that Peggy isn’t one of the “girls”. I don’t get it with Joan. On the one hand, she doesn’t like Peggy at all. Yet, on the other, she’s very protective of the company’s first female copywriter. Don then asks Joan to go back to his office with him.

In Don’s office, Don tells Joan to cancel everything on his schedule for the rest of the week. Roger pops in to ask about the family emergency, which Don calls “memorable”. Don tells Roger that he’s going to Los Angeles. Roger asks him to bring him a back of oranges. Roger also says that he’s sure that everything will be OK in “Ms. Holloway’s capable hands”. There’s an awkward pause when Roger looks at Joan, Joan looks at him, and Don looks at them both. Roger misses Joan so much, even though he won’t admit it. Roger leaves, and Joan quickly follows after Don asks her to type up a memo for Paul telling him that he’s not going on the trip. Instead, Joan goes back to the party, where she humiliates Paul by telling him about the trip in front of everyone.

Back in his office, Pete calls Sheila to tell her that he’s “reconsidered” the trip to Mississippi. How nice of him! He says that he’ll “be there arm in arm with you and make a stand”.

As everyone else is leaving the office, Pete asks Peggy if he can have a word with her. Pete says that he’s nervous about flying (since his father died in a plane crash earlier this season). Peggy talks about how, statistically speaking, he’s safe. Pete then blurts out that he hates his mother… which Peggy awkwardly tries to defuse.

That same night, Betty is sitting alone in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine when she hears a commotion outside. Even though it might be a burglar (or worse), she simply gets up and slowly locks the back door. The next morning, the dog goes all crazy at the door of the Draper kids’ playhouse. Betty walks over to investigate… only to find Glen Bishop inside! Yes, Glen – the creepy kid from last season, is back!He says that he’s been hiding out in the playhouse “for a few days” because he thinks his mother doesn’t love him. Betty invites him inside and talks him into taking a shower while she washes his clothes.

Things quickly get weird. Glen comes down wearing one of Don’s t-shirts. He takes Betty’s hand and says that he’s there to rescue Betty! He has money, he says. They could go away together! CREEPY LITTLE KID! The weirdness train (nearly) stops when Sally and Bobby arrive home from school. Betty calls Glen’s mother to come pick him up. As Helen drags Glen away, he tells Betty that he hates her.

On the bus to Mississippi, Paul discusses Marxist philosophy with a bunch of bored black folks. Methinks that Paul is trying too hard! I hope that “wise white man here to help you dumb black folks” smile gets knocked off his face… soon!

Helen comes back to the Draper house to give Betty an earful about the “Glen situation”. Betty says that nothing’s going on, aside from that fact that Glen is lonely. Helen admits that she’s not a very good mother. Betty, as if to defuse the situation and take some of the worries off Helen’s shoulders, says that Don doesn’t live there anymore. Betty says that they haven’t told the children, and that she doesn’t know what will happen in the future. Betty says that “[s]ometimes I think I’ll float away if Don isn’t holding me down.” Helen tells Betty that the hardest thing is “realizing you’re in charge”.

The episode ends with Don lighting up a cigarette on the plane to Los Angeles.

Fuck! I can’t wait for next Sunday!


– Early in the episode, Don says to Paul: “As much as I’d like to indulge your Twilight Zone fantasy of being shot into space…”, leading Sal to say “Believe me, it’s our fantasy too!”

– When Sheila asks Paul if he’s scared about going to Mississippi, he has the nerve to reply, “don’t pretend it’s not scary”. Easy for you to say, white man!

– “Good morning Donna!” “It’s Allison.”

– “I just wanted to say “Happy Birthday”!” – Bert Cooper, opening the door to the baby shower.

And finally… one last picture of the beautiful Betty Draper:

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