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Mad Men S07E03: "Field Trip"


Mad Men's "Field Trip" was an outing in both the literal sense—Bobby Draper went to a potato farm with his increasingly unstable mother and that went about as well as you'd expect—and the figurative sense: Don returned to SC&P a humbled man. No one seemed especially thrilled to see him; heck, no one was even expecting him. Some of the partners actively tried to block Don's return while some of their underlings just wandered around giving him the stink-eye, but everyone was clearly fearful of what Don Draper's presence might mean for the agency... and he wasn't even wearing what one could call a "power suit." Black and blue are the go-to hues for men who want to project a vibe of authority, influence, professionalism, and generally just having it together. Of course, whether Don's decision to wear brown was an intentional signal of deference to his cohorts or an unplanned manifestation of his inner listlessness is up for debate. On one hand, Don Draper has never done anything unintentionally. On the other hand, Don Draper has never done anything unintentionally until recently.

Don will be returning to the SC&P fold a handful of stipulations that seemed cherry-picked to make him want to quit. Roger was the only partner in the SC&P boardroom who was willing to vouch for Don's job-worthiness, and was actually passionate about something in a way we haven't seen in a long time. We'll get back to that in a sec. Roger was alone in his pro-Don arguments, and despite being woefully outnumbered, won on a technicality, rather than by successfully swaying his anti-Draper coworkers. If SC&P actually went forward with firing Don, instead of just exiling him by leaving him adrift in suspension-land, the agency would have to buy out his partner shares—a financial hit that, even under the best circumstances, would adversely affect the books until at least 1973. It isn't difficult to see that even with SC&P's expansions to California and Detroit, the new faces in the office, and the air of relief in Don's forced absence that the agency isn't really doing so hot. The infighting, the egos, the incompetence—the company is behind the curve when it comes to new media, and half the management has openly decried the agency's reliance on those dang creative types, which seems like a shockingly counterproductive outlook for an advertising agency. After all, SC&P received only one Clio nomination this year—and it wasn't for Peggy's work, which apparently wasn't even considered. And Lou Avery is the actual worst and most odious person ever. 

So. Roger may be the only one who wants to admit it, but SC&P needs Don.


Roger is also the only one who actually wants Don to come back, both for professional and personal reasons. Thus, it was with guarded optimism that the partners read the conditions for Don's return to work, practically holding their breath in hopes that Don would just quit because then they'd be rid of him and they could avoid giving him truckloads of money just to make him go away. 

But hey, reality is merely an inconvenience. It's 1969; man will walk on the moon in just a few months. Don isn't allowed to be alone with clients. He must stick to a pre-approved script for all pitches and meetings. He's not allowed to drink in the office. He'll sit at Lane Pryce's old desk, and wait, just one more thing—and you could practically see the partners waiting for Don's righteous outburst at this one—he has to report to Lou Avery. Violation of any of these points will result in immediate termination and the forfeit of his share in the company. 

Will Don break one of the rules? I don't know, probably. Despite the image of a humbled man in the brown suit sitting prostrate before upper management, Don's simple response of "okay" was tinged with defiance. He knows they don't want him. He knows how unwelcome he is. His mere presence in the boardroom is an act of rebellion, and perhaps the best way to stick it to the cohorts who tossed him on his ass at his lowest point is actually to do everything they say. They want Don to play the game? Don's whole life is a game. They have no idea what they've gotten themselves into. 


So let's talk about Roger for a sec. He's currently the lone member of Team Draper, and he's also a man who himself has been teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown for at least the last two seasons, if not longer. Don and Roger have long been a unified front in agency business—though Roger's interest in it appeared to wane in the wake of his acid-tripping and wife-divorcing and other out-of-office shenanigans. Roger even made a compelling addition to our Mad Men death-watch a while back. During debates about whether or not to bring Don back into the office, Joan pointed out that there's no place for Don in current set-up. That they don't need him. Roger has skirted the issue of being needed himself for some time now, and really, what does he actually do anymore? He wanders into the office whenever he feels like it. He leads some kind of polygamist commune in his penthouse with no real affection or apparent feelings for the crowd he shares his bed with. He's in a similar position to Don in that, despite how unproductive he is, getting rid of him would be more hassle than it's worth for everyone else. 

Roger has been where Don is. Remember the disastrous, racist meeting with Honda back in the day? Roger unpacked his drunken emotional baggage in the middle of a meeting with a client and was punished accordingly. Admittedly, Roger's current existence isn't exactly a shining example of hitting rock bottom and crawling back to the top; he's still a hot mess. But he's has evolved to the point of being a functional hot mess. Roger's relationship with his live-in partners seems paternal at times (which makes the sex a little creepy but, eh, it's 1969). He's patient. He's usually the soberest person in the room. It's easy to look at his current living situation and dismiss it with an "LOL Roger," but this is the most stable we've seen Roger in a long time. It works for him. He's finally reaching the point of being happy again.


However, now that he's paying attention to the agency again, Roger also sees his own influence waning, especially since the merger with Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. His personal rivalry with Cutler is increasingly heated, and their conflicting philosophies about the sort of people SC&P should hire is a sore spot for both men, particularly as Cutler's influence seems to be overshadowing Roger's, regardless of the fact that Roger's name is on the door. Cutler has allies in Ted, in Lou, maybe in Peggy. Roger has finally woken up and he sees his life's work going somewhere he never wanted it to. His passionate defense of Don was as much about their friendship as it was a practical effort to get some of his own people back into his own agency. 

It took three episodes to get here, but the band is finally back together. "Field Trip" took us into new territory for Mad Man—we're looking at a new Don, an impassioned Roger, a Peggy who's no longer the office wunderkind. But the thing about field trips is that they're only temporary. At the end of the day, we pack up and we go home. Don may not have returned to a home identical to the one that he left, but he's most certainly back.



NOTES

– I know, I know, "LOL BETTY IS SUCH A CHILD," but still, I thought that this week's interaction with Bobby, and Francis's subsequent response to her frustration—so knowing, kind of defeated, exhausted in a way that patient people who have to deal with the same bullshit every day get exhausted—really highlighted a more nuanced approach to Betty's probable mental illness. She's awful, but I really don't think she can help it, and that's sad. What do you think?

– So I guess Don and Megan are over now. Maybe. Probably. Thoughts?  

– Peggy and the Clios: "You weren't rejected. You weren't even considered." Yeah, I don't think that's better, Ginberg, but thanks? 

– Hey everybody, it's Francine from the old neighborhood! Hi, Francine! She's a working woman now and Betty judged her but also fretted about it. You also have to love how Francine made "old fashioned" sound like an insult. 


What did you think of "Field Trip"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/17/2015

Season 7 : Episode 14

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These Mad Men reviews are honestly the best on this website, hats off to the reviewer.
Don should have just taken the other job and stuck it to SC&P. Their clearly slacking, and he could have done what he does best, somewhere else.
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I have answered what I think of the deal Don had to accept somewhere below. But I want to add here that I am very surprised they don't have a legal consultant and lawyers in that firm. Usually, these kinds of decision are passed through to the lawyers before being presented to whoever.
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It's official. I want to stab Lou in the eye, Lagertha-style.
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Considering Don's trip to the office, it can't have been a random thing that Rod Serling's name came up early in the episode.
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Shades of "Patterns" (1955-56) and "The Twilight Zone" (1959-64).
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With the merger fully in place now, Jim Cutler seems to be making a much bigger impact this year than last year when it was Ted. I think it's working very well. I'm all for more of Cutler as an antagonist (or whatever) towards the rest of the group.

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Bobby just never ages. Meanwhile Sally is what 15?

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It's a side effect of all that second-hand smoke.
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I'm disappointed we won't be seeing Don working at SC&P's Cali offices wth Pete and Ted. That would have been very interesting.
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It's hard to believe they didn't want him back considering they only had one clio award. Bunch of old farts that were mostly lost in petty squabbles and should have been doing what's best for the firm. Witness example A: Jim Cutler saying "after what he did to Ted"
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Lou Avery is the worst! Ugh!
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I was very surprised that Don actually accepted their terms instead of going somewhere else. I guess he has other plans to work his way back.

I liked Megan but I think its time they have a clean break. Is Neve Campbell only appearing in one episode? I would like her to get into bed with Don soon.
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Don is a bona fide partner and this is his firm when all is said and done.Plus, we know that when Don wants to be the top honcho he usually gets things done; that is, he knows by now that he is his own worst enemy. Another reason for accepting these terms is he isn't; as in the United States one can always sue later or at any time because we all know that these terms were unreasonable and as presented maybe illegal. I kind of doubt that pushing a major partner from his firm on the grounds that he behaved in a weird way one single day out of the many years he worked there counts.
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Betty (not a popular subject any way you look at it.) Betty Draper is unfortunately treating her poor son Bobby the same way her own mother treated her. (“Close your mouth Elizabeth, you'll catch flies. Stand up straight.”) Nothing is good enough for Betty in her perfect little self-centered world. Who wouldn't have gladly given up their sandwich to a little girl who didn't have anything to eat for lunch? But Betty takes offense and announces that her son ruined the day. Her poor little boy is trying to please her and get her attention, in an effort to earn love and affection from a person that is just not capable of providing any.

We all know a Betty. And we always feel sorry for their children.

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I'm kind of annoyed with Peggy and Cutler for still being so angry with Don because of what he "did" to their beloved Ted. Like, let Ted own up to his own actions a little, especially with regards to Peggy.
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What did Don do to Boy Scout Ted that hurt them so badly to begin with? Last I checked he selflessly gave up an opportunity to go to California and reconcile with Megan so Ted could fix his family issues in Cali.
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Staff
Loved the ep. Great review.
Don Draper is hopefully back. If not for himself, to spite his partners who thought he was washed up.
I am not happy with Peggy/Joan/Lou. In love with Roger. What a badass MOFO.
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Who knows whether Don's return will lead to the agency's glory or ruin, it should at least be entertaining. The current dynamic feels a little sour so I'd very much like Don to play the catalyst role and shake things up a bit. That may be overreaching, after all even at his weirdest the agency did okay. I'm still not sure we'll have built to anything major by episode seven (half seasons are the worst) but I'm trying to keep hope alive.
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* The first major stupidity on this show was Pete Campbell's turning down being head partner of a bigger and more successful firm apparently because he somehow thought that Don Draper's magical powers would win the day and that other firm would die.

- It seems to be about completely ignored or forgotten that Pete could have easily been head partner of this combined firm or at least about equal to Rodger. And that without Pete's clients at the time that would have been not Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

* The second major stupidity is Don Draper accepting this ludicrous deal. Don's a partner in this business and he's being relatively heavily wooed by Mary Wells' company. Don could simply have them buy him out and then work for a firm that could eventually destroy SC&P. He could easily get the unhappy Pete to join Mary Wells' company as well.

- With that, it isn't Don's partner's shares that makes the others have a huge pause. It's Rodger's telling them that the biggest thing going for them is Don's noncompete clause. That if they fire him not only would they take a huge financial hit, Don would take his creative mind to a better company and that would be disastrous for SC&P.

- Don had zero obligation to accept any deal that could result in his no longer having shares in the company and I don't see how that contract could even be legal or enforceable.

* Rodger Sterling provides a ton of capital to SC&P. Without him, there simply is no SC&P. He's the President of the company, likely the closest that the company has to a Chairman of the Board, etc.
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I understand that Don has been humbled by his situation, but he still held all the cards, as Roger succinctly pointed out to the other partners. So after being blind-sided by his lack of welcome and defiantly facing Cutler ("Well, here I am!"), I fully expected him to deal with the partners from that position of power and never agree to such a one-sided reworking of his contract. He easily could have said, "I'm a partner and I'm coming back, whether you like it or not. If you don't like it, buy me out. Otherwise, get Lou out of my office and he can either report to me or be reassigned to another department or quit." It's not like he didn't already have another offer on the table or even could have started his own agency. Hell, Pete would have easily been on board after the whole Chevy fiasco. At any rate, why, oh why, would he agree to such BS stipulations that would cause him to forfeit his stake in the company if he ever got one toe over the line?? Outside of Peggy's rude behavior, the other person's reaction to Don I didn't understand was Joan. He's always been there for her. I just don't get where she was coming from. Hrrrumph.
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I agree about Joan. I don't get why she was so anti-Don. She's very practical, so I could understand her having reservations, but she was downright hostile about his return.

I initially had your same reaction to Don agreeing to their terms, but when I asked my dad what he thought about it, he said, "It's penance." Business-wise, it does seem like the wrong decision, but when you consider Don's arc from a narrative view, it makes sense. I also agree with MaryAnn's assessment that agreeing to these terms when they so clearly expected him not to is the best way for Don to stick it to the partners.
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It was good episode, way better than the first two . Don is a smart guy, he knows his game: he´s playing humble now but i´m sure he will wow the agency with some amazing idea (not sure they will take it as a payback). I suposse being under the supervision of Lou Avery will create an expected friction between them and that will be interesting from a narrative point of view.

About Joan i think it was a more than natural reaction : she recently got a proper office and a deserved importance as an accountant, so of course she don´t wanna jeopardize that so Don´s arrival is treatening and puzzling also for her in fact i´m quite sure she still recents they way they pushed her to save the agency - no matter if she got a partnertship on it or not, as a woman that´s very traumatizing and deamining - I don´t think she hates Don but of course she grew stronger and tougher as person: single widow and also mother of the child of her ex boss who happen to be her impossible love, who recently pushed her to prostitute herself to save his agency...so yeah... she has all the right to be a nuclear bitch if she wants to... (just saying) We don´t get to see Megan anymore, honestly the show went downhill when she appeared and she doesnt add much in terms of story telling either ( we get it, ... he´s a terrible husband no matter who´s the current wife/girlfriend/lover ...we know that , he knows that and no need to overpoint it).

Peggy has been in a emotional and professional shithole for the past year, she´s trapped in her "modern woman" paradygma : too smart to date an average 1960 man but too conventional in the emotional department to deal with it. Her boss is a misogynistic old cunt and she knows that having Don back would be her salvation or at least a way to being less stuck. Her romantic life is a mess and her work was her happy place...i hope she goes back to that.

Roger is simply Roger...the oldest among them all trying to cope with being a elderly man lost in this modern world (with orgies or not) , he´s an oldtimer and he knows it: Don represents that mirror and possibly the only person he could possibly relate to: a emotional mess, horrible husband, a questionable father figure and also almost a decor in the office...in many aspects Roger is don 15 years older and he knows it, he needs him psycologically speaking.
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I could write a long comment, but it will boil down to this:I am extremely disappointed with Joan.Any other words that I might add would be too filthy for me to write, say, or even think.
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It seems as if Don is not catching a break from any of the women in his life. Megan, Joan, Peggy, (I don't even care where Betty is). Only Sally seems to have patience with her father, and is wise beyond her years. Perhaps Don has failed miserably as a husband, as a colleague, as a business partner, as a lover (even Sylvia, his neighbor, had walked away from him). He is struggling to regain a semblance of the life he used to have in the palm of his hand.


But then there is Sally, proving once again, that despite Don's failures and weaknesses, he will always be a father. “I love you.” Why was he so surprised that she loved him after all?

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Who is this person that is pretending to be Peggy?! When Anna died (Don's first love when he was Dick Whitman?), he confided in Peggy in his grief that he had lost the only person that truly knew him. And Peggy said, “That's not true. I know you.” If I remember correctly, Don fell asleep with his head on Peggy's lap. Don was the one who came to Peggy while she was in the pit of despair, after she gave up Pete's baby. Don told her to put herself together and to get back to the business of living her life. To put the past behind her. He's the only one that was there for her.

Don and Peggy share some of the most revealing moments from the series, when Don and Peggy both were the most vulnerable. It does not make sense that Peggy would still hold a grudge about Don sending Ted to California in his place, or about her not getting credit for some of the ideas she initiated. Don has always been Peggy's greatest ally. It just does not make sense that she would not return the favor. This can't be Peggy, she is unbearable to watch.

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I agree. The whole ordeal with the flowers shows that Peggy is still wrapped up with thoughts of Ted and her behavior has become incredibly unhealthy as a result of both that and working for Lou Avery and being creatively dismissed on a daily basis. And while several of them, not just Peggy, apparently still blame Don for Ted's moving to California (despite it being Ted who actually wanted to go, to get away from Peggy and save his marriage), I would think that the latter issue with Lou Avery would make her LOVE that Don was coming back to the office. In fact, the rest of the team being so eager to catch him up on their work speaks to the "Lou Avery effect". So I just don't understand why she was such a huge beyotch to him.
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Peggy's anger with Don is based entirely on him simply not being there for the past year, while she has tried to champion the idea and pitch to a boss who seems to only care about the bottom line. Don will generate something fantastic for Chevy that Lou will override with something mundane - the Vega will fail, miserably, and Don's original idea, produced in partnership (and even credited to) Peggy, will save the agency from an absolute disaster. Then Megan gets chopped up and Betty gets institutionalized, leaving Don with three kids to take care of...on his own.
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Wow, that was so cold - I mean really, the people at the agency were horrible to Don, who is not perfect but come on....I was so glad Roger had to stick it into their faces that Don is needed. Joan was way too bitchy, I don't think she even should have opened her mouth, given how she earned her partnership just btw. And Betty - I don't think she can help it...and also my mom would be cross with me as well that after a day of an exhausting trip - your child gave your food away for candy....like of coarse it seemed way too childish, but 10% was Betty reacting in a correct manner.
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Anyone know the title of the movie Don was watching in the opening and its cultural/historical significance, if any?
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Jacques Demy's Model Shop. The story of a man whose relationship with a wannabe actress is rapidly falling apart. He falls for another woman he becomes obsesses with.
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6 seasons with the central theme being (1) Don Draper's creative genius (2) Don Draper's massive ego. 6 seasons of Don being the man, the one who brings in all the business because of his creative genius. Now all of a sudden they don't need him WTF. 6 seasons of Don's ego, and even though I don't like him much, he was kind of a Howard Roark character - I admired his integrity. He wouldn't compromise himself and act like a performing monkey, if someone asked him to do something he didn't agree with he told them where to go, and to take their business with them, he didn't sell out, he stuck to his principles even if it costs him a contract. They've ruined his character with this crap. 4 episodes for someone (Roger) to finally say what I've been shouting at the screen the last 4 weeks - he's a fucking partner ffs, and the creative genius, they couldn't treat him like that or he'd demand they buy him out, he'd start his own firm. This season has been shit so far.
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Seven seasons in and I did not see Don's response coming. I love it.

After Peggy's cold greeting, it's pretty much guaranteed she'll be working on an important project with Don shortly right?

Remember when we used to root for Ginsberg? He was always sarcastic, but he's really taken a turn towards jaded this season.

With Cutler suddenly on Harry Crane's side, we can commence the countdown to a final showdown with Roger... While no one likes Harry, it's going to be tougher and tougher to ignore the media department.

While the partners balked at buying out Don's partner shares, it feels like this lays the groundwork for it happening in the future. Or it could be another partner looking for an exit once Don has returned and shaken up the status quo.

Any scene with Betty is starting to feel like a horror movie and I'm not sure I understand the end goal here. If it's truly mental illness, I'd hope that there is some moment of recognition ahead. if not, last season's significant improvement in her health and happiness seems particularly odd. I really wish last season's "The Better Half" marked an end to Betty's arc.
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Regarding Harry Crane, I was left with the impression that his firing was imminent at the conclusion of the partners meeting. Cutler stated his objection to Crane's employment with SC&P, and Roger responded, "He's gone." There was no apparent dissension in the room on this point. However, I can see it being a problem for SC&P if Crane is fired, because Crane seems to be the only person there that does what he does, knows exactly what he does, and know how to do it.
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It happened quickly, but Cutler actually wanted to help Harry out by buying a computer for the media department. So, quite the opposite of firing him. Roger's reaction was hilarious though because he's never liked Harry.
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Disagree. Terrible reaction, completely out of character. I don't like Don too much anyway but that's not how he'd have reacted. He wouldn't even have waited that long to do something about it in the first place.
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What makes you say that it was out of character? We haven't seen strong-willed, decisive Don for several seasons now. Even moments of leadership like his "Prepare to swim in the English channel and then drown in champagne!" speech to motivate the team for the Jaguar pitch was really just a hollow imitation of his former self as it wasn't backed up by great creative.

I think the show did quite an excellent job depicting Don as a humbled version of himself these last few episodes. It remains to be seen whether or not he'll stay that way... his name is on the door, after all.
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Hurray for Roger for sticking out for his friend.
And lets hope Neve Campbell returns!!!
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This was and awesome episode. I honestly felt bad for Don, nearly everyone he considered a friend in the past, treats him like a leper and wants to kick him out.
I understand Peggy, Ted and Cutler, but what's up with Joan? She was always good to Don, vice versa, and now she's hostile all of the sudden.

On the meeting, Roger handed their asses to them. The face they had at the end haha. Kudos to John Slattery.

P.s. I hope Lou gets thrown off from he rooftop, that c*nt.
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For the Joan thing, I vaguely remember Don doing something by the end of the last season which upset her. Maybe it had to do with him ruining the Hersey pitch? I think it has to do with the fact that last season he cared so little about the firm that he pretty much tainted their reputation. You also have to remember that Joan is a single mother now and has a lot invested with this firm so she doesn't want to see everyones hard work flushed down the drain just because of some drunk.
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She's not the sentimental tyoe is she.
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In the Betty Draper dictionary "Eat your candy” means “Go f*ck yourself.”
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