Thursday, August 21, 2014

Re-watching ‘Mad Men’: S1/Ep13, “The Wheel”

While the previous episode focused on business, the Season 1 finale is all about family. When Francine shares with Betty her husband is having an affair, it sets off a chain reaction in Betty that eventually leads to the dissolution of the Draper marriage (two seasons later). She suspects Don’s cheating on her but what she discovers is nearly as humiliating and demeaning—Don’s been calling her psychiatrist behind her back. Meanwhile, as Don works on a campaign for Kodak’s slide projector, he starts to re-examine his own relationship with his family, just in time to learn he caused the death of the last member of his original family when Adam committed suicide. As Betty notes, Don’s never known what it’s like to have a real family. However, his work on the Kodak account causes him to finally understand what this may mean. Unfortunately, he realizes too late, and the damage he’s caused cannot be undone.

Best Scene: Don’t pitch for “The Carousel” is one of the greatest single scenes in television history. But I’d like to throw an honorable mention for the scene immediately prior, where Betty has her own soliloquy in the psychiatrist’s office; here she finally admits to herself that Don is unfaithful—all the while knowing Don will find out about this conversation eventually; this may be January Jones' best work in the entire series.

Best Line: Don to Betty: “Who knows why people do what they do?”

Grade: A+

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