‘Mad Men’ Breakdown: ‘Field Trip’

SPOILER ALERT, so keep your eyes Drape-d, Mad Men obsessives…

Season Seven, Episode Three: “Field Trip”

Written by Heather Jeng Bladt and Matthew Weiner; Directed by Chris Manley

This week on Mad Men: Megan kicks Don out, Don goes back to work, and Betty loses her lunch. “Field Trip” provided some important moments for all three of these characters, especially Don, who continues to grapple with the fallout from his actions last season.

Quick Breakdown

We open on Don in a movie theater watching Model Shop, a 1969 film set in Los Angeles about a man who falls in love with a French model (not very subtle). We’ve often seen Don in a movie theater, but this time he isn’t avoiding the office or responsibilities — he’s killing time.

When he gets home, Don calls Dawn, who is rather busy in her new position at SCP. Don is frustrated that Dawn can’t come by or place a call for him. (Yes, he might actually have to dial the phone himself.) Dawn tells him that he needs to call Megan’s agent back, which is the only message he has received.

(Side note from Ryan, the editor: Still adjusting to the whole “Don/Dawn” thing.)

When Dawn puts Don on hold, he hangs up and calls the agent. He learns that Megan has been losing some confidence and acting “unprofessionally” by contacting directors at home, “running into them” in public, and basically begging for parts. Her agent hopes Don can calm her down and avoid any further damage to her reputation. Since he has nothing better to do, Don hops on a plan to Los Angeles and surprises Megan — even bringing flowers. Megan, of course, is surprised and pleased to see him.

After some sexy time on the sofa, Don not so subtly brings up the issue and why he’s there. Megan is less than pleased, especially when Don suggests she should “stop acting like a lunatic.” Megan then begins to throw around her own concerns and questions about Don’s whereabouts and how it’s always quiet when he calls her and how he’s never there when she calls him. Of course, she assumes he’s having an affair (as, let’s face it, she should).

Don assures her he is not, but does spill the beans on his “leave of absence.” In true Don Draper fashion, he seems surprised that this doesn’t fix everything. He’s told the truth, so it should work, right? No. Megan is even angrier that he’s chose with a clear head (since he claims to be drinking less) to lie to her and not spend these last five months in L.A. with her. She finally tells him to leave her house and go back to New York. “This is the way this ends,” she says, grimly. (But is it really over?).

Back in the New York office, Peggy is still having a rough go. The CLIO nominates have been released, and Peggy didn’t get any recognition. In fact, the only person from the agency who did was Ginsberg. Lou is still not feeling Peggy and always manages to get her going in meetings. This week he says to her: “Who put a knot in your pantyhose?”

In the conference room, Harry and Jim meet with a client who is concerned about the computer use at the agency. A newspaper has run an article on another agency and their technological advancements. They want to make sure they are getting the same attention at SCP, and Harry assures them they are. He says they use a computer and are in the process of developing a new program to combine local and national data into one report. The client is pleased, but this gives Harry one more chance to complain about the lack of support and respect for his department. (He’s been complaining for seven seasons now.)

Jim takes Harry’s complaint seriously for once and sets up an interview for Harry with The Wall Street Journal. The problem is everything Harry said in the meeting was basically a lie or a pretty big stretch of the truth. He goes to Jim and tells him they don’t actually have a computer (they use someone else’s) and that the program he mentioned is a great idea, but they aren’t developing it. Jim is taken aback and says, “You have a lot of stiff competition, but you are the most dishonest man I’ve ever worked with.” (That’s saying something.)

We then catch up to Betty, who is having a comical lunch with her old friend Pauline. The latter is currently working as a travel agent three days a week, which causes Betty to question her devotion to her children and husband. (Sadly this kind of conversation still happens, even in 2014.) The scene shows again how hard Betty is holding on to the past and traditional gender roles. She smiles while jabbing, “I thought the children were the reward. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.”

At home, Betty greets the children, who are sitting with their nanny. Her lunch with Pauline has reminded her of her own duties as a mother. To everyone’s surprise, she tells Bobby she will be a chaperone for his field trip to a farm the following day. (Oh boy, this should be good!)

Don is set on fixing something in his life and decides to have dinner with another agency who is courting him. They make him a job offer on paper (we never see what the offer is), but he really wants to be back at SCP. With offer in hand, he decides to stop by Roger’s. They argue over Don’s dismissal. Don says, “I would never have done that to you.” Roger reminds him of how crazy he got in the meeting with Hershey, which set this all into motion. Finally, Roger says, “Want to come back? Come back” and tells him to show up on Monday.

Don goes home and calls a crying-yet-resilient Megan. She doesn’t want to talk to him and refuses to say “I love you” at the end of the call. Maybe it is over.

The next morning, Betty accompanies Bobby on his field trip. On the bus, things start off well — she talks with Bobby in a motherly way and is thanked by his teacher for coming on the trip. His teacher is young and appears to not be wearing a bra, which causes Betty to quip to Bobby: “That blouse says she loves everyone.”

At the farm, the children go into the barn to see the cows while Betty and another mother smoke outside. (I guess the one place you can’t smoke in the 1960s is a barn.) They both laugh about the teacher’s indecency before joining the children. In the barn, Betty volunteers to try the milk directly from the cow. Bobby is again a bit surprised and pleased by his mother. She’s really trying here.


Afterwards, they put out a blanket for their picnic lunch, and while Betty goes to wash her hands, Bobby trades Betty’s sandwich for some gumdrops. Now Betty has no lunch (but, in Bobby’s defense, he didn’t realize she was planning to eat.) To Betty, the day is ruined: Her son gave away her lunch with no concern for her.

That same morning, a nervous and anxious Don returns to the office, but he finds that no one knows he’s coming back and Roger is nowhere to be found (surprise, surprise). His first encounter is with Lou, who is less than thrilled to see Don and begins to worry about his own job. Don then sees Roger’s secretary, who also has no idea he’s coming or when Roger is coming in. Don is forced to awkwardly walk around the office and entertain himself. He ends up in the creative department’s workroom with Ginsberg and Stan catching him up. Peggy is shocked to find Don in the office and avoids him.

When Joan comes in, she’s also surprised by Don’s return and goes directly to Cooper to find out what’s going on. Cooper is also unaware of Don’s return or anything Roger might have done or promised. (Roger’s going to be in trouble.) Finally, Roger shows up and meets with the partners to discuss Don’s return. Everyone but Roger doesn’t want Don to come back and thought they had politely fired him. Roger says he would never have agreed to fire Don. Jim points out that they are spending tons of money on Don (money they could use on a computer) and need to get him out. Of course, he’s a partner, which means they’d have to buy him out.

Back at home, Betty is still angry about her lost lunch and passive-aggressively talks about how she’s not hungry anymore. Poor Bobby tells Henry, “I wish it was yesterday,” but refuses to tell him what happened on the field trip.

Henry goes to Betty and asks what happened. She doesn’t say, but asks, “Do you think I’m a good mother?” When Henry says yes, she replies, “Then why don’t they love me?” This is actually a heartbreaking moment. On some level, Betty wants to be a good mother, but never quite knows how. She’s trapped by her own ideas of what a mother should be and her own traditional background.

Back in the office, Don is still waiting to hear from the partners and sees Peggy. She’s pissed and tells Don “I can’t say we’ve missed you.” Don replies, “Thanks, Peggy.” Peggy clearly blames Don for the situation she is now in with Lou.

Don then gets called into the conference room, where he’s given an offer. He can come back to work if he agrees to stick to approved scripts, not meet with clients alone, report to Lou, and not drink in the office. If he breaks any of these, he will lose his job and partnership. The episode ends by moving in on Don’s face as he says, “Okay” to the terms.



Mad Man always takes a little time heating up, and this week proved that season seven is well on its way. Jon Hamm was perfect in this episode, showing us a very vulnerable Don. This was also a satisfying episode for both Megan and Betty. Both women found themselves battling old demons (success as an actress and success as a mother). This also served as a great set-up for future episodes as Don actually returns to work.

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

In Don’s defense, it does sound like Megan is losing it.

Can someone just punch Lou in the face or get that John Deer lawnmower out again?

Betty in that pink dress and black sunglasses smoking on that blanket with Bobby was perfection.

Will Don be able to follow all these rules?

Ryan’s random thought: Who wouldn’t trade a sandwich for a sack of gumdrops?

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