Every week, Aaron Cohen (@UnlikelyWords) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s Aaron’s recap for season 7 episode 10:
Episode title: “The Forecast.”
Episode timing: I didn’t pick up on anything. Is this being left purposely vague? Presumably it’s sometime in May/June since Glen is finished with college and Sally is going on a trip?
In a shortened season, the mid-season malaise tends to happen at an accelerated pace. I don’t feel like much has happened last week or this week. Or, maybe stuff has happened, but not the kind of stuff I pick up on for these recaps. Hard to say!
In any case, this episode is all about the future, as made obvious by the episode title, “The Forecast.” Don’s task for the episode is writing a speech for Roger on what the future brings. He’s stumped and asks Ted Chaough, Peggy, Meredith, Sally… Anyone. “Let’s assume that it’s good, but it’s gonna get better. Supposed to get better.” After thinking about it for 15 minutes, let’s go out on a limb and say Don’s never looked to the future, never been able to, never had a reason to. At the same time, part of Don’s trouble “painting a picture” of the future is his dissatisfaction with his life/advertising. Don seems to be looking for something outside of advertising. More than advertising. He still doesn’t think what he does has much value. It’s why he responds to Ted (a pharmaceutical account) and Peggy’s (to create a catch phrase, something of lasting value) dreams the way he does. They’re valid, but because they’re based on goals in an advertising career, they’re cheap, or cheaper than real dreams. Which Don doesn’t have anyway, or can’t access.
Joan, on the other hand, dreams of charming Richard Burghoff / Bergoff. CHARMING with a capital MING. Joan is still a cool customer, much savvier than she comes off, but she still wants love. Richard wants her, but not to be saddled. “You’re such a disappointment.” “This is not how I saw things. I have a plan, which is no plans!” Joan remains frustrated by her son, “You’re ruining my life.” This felt like they were tying up Joan’s story, the way they tied up Megan last week. That said, I’m hoping for some Roger/Joan closure. “I don’t want to be rigid, it makes you old.”
Creepy Glen Bishop is back, baby, and there’s chest hair for everyone. He’s joining the army because he wants to impress Betty, or rather, he flunked out of college, and he thought if he joined the army, he could get with Betty. I’m half surprised Betty didn’t go for it. Didn’t she let him watch her pee before? Jeeze, Betty. You already said he’s “a fine young man.” “I feel safe because I know you’re mine.”
Don’s selling his house, which means… something. His real estate agent looks like Pete Campbell’s LA real estate girlfriend. She’s having trouble selling the empty shell of a condo because it reeks of failure, “It looks like a sad person lives here.” This seems a bit heavy handed, actually. Don sees the empty house and sees opportunity, thinks of all the stories you can tell with a blank slate. The real estate agent just sees it as a hard sell. Don’s “Sold a lot uglier things than this,” and, “That’s the best opportunity in the world.” Basically, Don’s an empty shell, just like his apartment. He’s always thought this was best (“opportunity”). Some people are beginning to point out that this chameleon act, empty shell lifestyle is not a good thing. In fact, it’s sad. Mathis and Sally both make this point explicitly during the episode, “Anyone pays attention to you, and they always do, you just ooze everywhere.” Come to think of it, I think this is what the episode is about, this is the big take away. “Don’t blame your failure on me” is what Don said to the real estate agent, but in other words to Mathis.
Sally and Betty seem to have made a certain kind of peace, “This conversation is a little late, and so am I,” “Everything’s a joke to you,” but it might just be her maturing and biding her time. A little birdie who I watch with every week thinks it’s interesting/good that Don’s relationship with Sally has been explored way more than his relationship with Bobby. Sally is an interesting character with depth, Bobby and Gene are just there. “You’re a very beautiful girl, it’s up to you to be more than that.” This is Don telling Sally that she can be like Betty, pretty and boring, or like him, pretty and successful. Right?
–Did you notice Don told Meredith he’d get the coffee himself so he could get two doughnuts and have an excuse to go into Ted’s office? I thought that was cute, but I don’t know why Don didn’t just ask Meredith to get him two doughnuts. Do you ever feel like there’s less to actually do, but more to think about?”
-Lou Avery is in California, still trying to sell his comic.
-When Sally’s friend was hitting on Don, he told Sally he didn’t want to embarrass her, but it seemed wildly out of character for him to go about it like that in front of Sally. He’s vain, but not THAT vain.
-Last song playing is The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack. Fitting.