Sunday night’s “Mad Men” hit out of the ballpark again. Don Draper was finally confronted by his wife Betty over his secret past. As fans know, the character’s real name is Dick Whitman. He traded identities with the real, now dead, Don, in Korea.
But wait. Also in last night’s episode, we learned (if not before) that Don’s wife, Betty, is actually known as Betsy by her family.
What’s in a name? An old flame of Roger Sterling shows up and resists changing the name of her dog food company after a scandal. They’ve been revealed for using horsemeat. It’s the name her father gave the company, says the woman (played with perfection by guest Mary Page Keller). Don tells her, it’s just a name, you can’t do anything but change it. Even Roger (the great John Slattery) remarks, Just slap a new label on the can.
Well, isn’t that what Don did when he abandoned Dick Whitman?
There are two episodes left for “Mad Men” this season, an insufficient number. In the old days you’d get a 22 or 26 episode order. Thirteen installments for so many characters is frustrating. Joan, our red-headed bombshell, has been sorely shortchanged. The story of Peggy and Pete’s baby has not been addressed once. They’ve also gotten short shrift. The digression to Sal’s firing and his gay secret life also was backburnered fast. That storyline felt like the “Sopranos” similar diversion with Vinnie in Vermont.
Sunday’s episode took place on Halloween 1963, meaning we are heading now into two final episodes. This Sunday may include the Kennedy assassination and the wedding plans of Sterling’s daughter. Perhaps the final installment will take place on New Year’s Eve. (So far, it’s been one episode per month of 1963.)
But the real story of “Mad Men” season three was about the rise to power of Betty, Lady MacBeth in a pillbox hat. She’s tasted politics, and a politician. She’s gained the upper hand with Don after leveling her own brother. She has disdain for her children. What she does next is going to be interesting. Like it or not, Betty overcame Peggy and Joan as the top female in this season.
And isn’t Betty really Sue Ellen Ewing without a drinking problem? “Mad Men” is really just a “Dallas” for the millenium. Don is definitely J.R. Bert Cooper is Jock Ewing. Roger Sterling is Cliff Barnes. Joan is Lucy Ewing. Peggy is a reinvented Bobby Ewing. If she had a story, Jane, Roger’s new wife, would be Pam Ewing. And all those guys in the Sterling Cooper office? They’re the Greek chorus, the oil cartel and Harve Smithfield. Forget remaking “Dallas.” It’s already been done.