‘Mad Men’ Review: “Field Trip”
‘Mad Men’ season 7 pitches its third episode of the final season, “Field Trip,” as Don is finally allowed to return to work, however awkwardly, while Betty takes Bobby on a similarly uncomfortable field trip.
Last week’s episode, “A Day's Work,” saw Don forced to explain to Sally the reality of his work situation, while Pete found himself overlooked in Los Angeles, and Joan's frustrations led to a new opportunity. So what does the third episode of the final season bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Mad Men’ season 7, episode 3, “Field Trip”!
After a day at the movies, Don returns home to find Dawn too busy to come by and update him on office matters, while Megan’s agent Alan Silver has been reaching out to him. Don calls the man, who reveals that Megan apparently “lost her confidence” and began inappropriately confronting casting directors, urging Don to talk to her. The next day, Peggy finds herself upset in a meeting, given that her work was overlooked for a CLIO award, while Ginsberg got a nomination.
Betty has lunch with Francine, catching up about their respective home lives, as Betty sarcastically asserts that raising children should be its own reward above women going out and getting a job. Later that day, Betty volunteers to accompany Bobby on a field trip to a local farm. Meanwhile back at the Sterling-Cooper offices, Harry Crane assures a client that their company computer is every bit as impressive as one reported on in the news by a fellow agency, while Jim Cutler seems less than impressed by Harry’s explanations.
Don surprises Megan by showing up to her LA home, though the reunion quickly turns sour when Don reveals that Alan called him about her behavior. Megan begins lobbing accusations at Don for apparently never being in the office when she calls, to which Don finally admits that he was put on a leave of absence from work. Megan takes the news as a sign Don doesn’t want to be with her and throws him out, threatening to end their relationship. Back in New York, Harry gets a call from the Wall Street Journal and finds himself having to explain to Cutler that they don’t actually have a computer and can’t report about it in the news as such.
Having returned to New York, Don sets up a meeting with a rival ad agency and finally receives an offer for a job, though Don uses the offer as leverage to talk Roger into letting him come back to work. Visiting Don at his apartment, Roger agrees to let Don come back, admitting that he misses his friend. That night, Don calls Megan to share the news, apologizing for his dishonest behavior of late, though Megan remains upset and hurt.
While Betty accompanies Bobby on his field trip, Don finally makes the trek into the office, having been anxious about it for hours earlier. All are surprised to see Don, particularly as Don learns that Roger has yet to arrive to work, and no one seems to have been told about Don’s return. Ginsberg welcomes Don back and begins to catch him up on past work, while Peggy and the others gawk that Don Is apparently back. Meanwhile, Betty and another mother gripe about Bobby’s teacher’s lack of a bra, as a farmer shows the children into a barn to see the cows.
Worried about Don’s reappearance, Joan immediately relays the news to Bert Cooper, believing themselves to have a situation on their hands, while Lou Avery shoos the team away from Don downstairs. Roger finally arrives to the office, and Don insists he call a meeting to explain what’s going on. Back on the field trip, Betty finds that Bobby traded away her lunch for candy, believing she hadn’t intended to eat, so Betty freezes her son out over it.
Roger explains to the other partners that he believes Don ready and insists that they never fired him, nor intended the leave to be on a permanent basis. Both Joan and Cutler wish Don to be permanently let go, though Roger points out they’d need to buy out his partnership share and would open themselves up to competing directly with Don at another agency. Meanwhile, Henry returns home to find Bobby and Betty still cold to one another, as Betty admits to her husband she fears the children don’t love her.
The partners finally call Don into a meeting, agreeing to let him return to work under a few conditions; not only can he neither drink at the office nor meet with clients alone, Don must stick to the script in meetings and report to Lou Avery. Don bristles for a moment at the circumstances of his return, but ultimately acquiesces with a casual “okay.”
And there we have it! Don is finally back to work and no longer needs to dress in his finest suit just to answer the phone and pretend he has a life. We weren’t sure how long ‘Mad Men’ intended to drag out Don’s exodus, considering we’re already almost halfway thorugh the amount of new episodes we’ll see in 2014, but it’s good to have Don back and with a changed set of circumstances that positively reflects the changes the character has undergone. Of course, this being ‘Mad Men’ and the '60s and all, Don’s “not even drinking that much anymore” is made out to be a larger change than it sounds like, though the protracted scenes of Don’s awkward return to the office more than preview the intriguing new dynamics for the weeks to come.
A bit less effective this week was the Betty B-story, even as her first appearance of the season, and really one of the larger plots ever afforded to young Bobby. We’ve seen Betty’s particular brand of mothering before, and, however visually interesting, we’re not sure what to make of the reminders of her cruel behavior toward her children, particularly in an hour the pacing of which felt somewhat amiss regardless.
It’ll definitely make the back four episodes a bit more interesting to see Don and Peggy at odds while the former adjusts to the new set of circumstances, and hopefully earns his way back into everyone’s good graces. If anything, it might serve to point out Roger’s self-destructive behavior of late, or at least provide some forward momentum on whatever Don has going with Megan in their continually tumultuous marriage. And yay for Harry Crane’s return! Boo for lack of California Pete. And will someone clarify the extent of Ken’s eye injury, already?
Did you get your fill of moving ‘Mad Men’ drama? What did you think about Sunday’s latest, “Field Trip”? Get yourself caught up with Everything You Need to Know About 'Mad Men,' stay tuned for more coverage of the season, and check back again next Sunday for our review of 'Mad Men' season 7's latest installment, "The Monolith," on AMC!