Movies · Reviews

Mad Men 3.11 Review: The Gypsy and the Hobo

By  · Published on October 27th, 2009

by Josh Radde

Mad Men Airs Sunday at 10/9c on AMC

Synopsis: Betty confronts Don about his past life; Roger runs into an old flame; Don plans a getaway with Suzanne; Joan reaches out to Roger for occupational help.

Review: I suppose this week’s episode and last week’s were a solid response to my open letter to Matthew Weiner and the writer’s of Mad Men, because I’ve been absolutely captivated by the latest episodes. Last week’s episode had what we had been waiting for, Betty stumbling upon Don’s secret. This week was no letdown either. The confrontation between Don and Betty was one of the best moments in series history. Betty was hurt and powerful and for the first time, we see Don scared in front of her. It was also nice to see that he didn’t lie to her, because Lord knows he could’ve, but the audience would know better. Just a great back-and-forth which made you forget that Don’s girlfriend was waiting outside in his car the whole time. Then to see the whole family go out for trick-or-treating with the kids and having a neighbor man ask Don and Betty “Who are you supposed to be?” – good stuff. This reminded me of the finale to Sopranos Season 4 where everyone thought that someone was going to get whacked or something ludicrous would happen, and instead the writer’s gave us a realistic, scary argument between and husband and wife who have hidden so much from each other. Though Mad Men wasn’t nearly as loud or intense, it was just as suspenseful watching the two of them go at it. January Jones and Jon Hamm connected, as actors, on a level that they never have before. They weren’t just playing “house” and being passive aggressive anymore…this was real.

On the other note, it was good to have a Roger episode for once. The treatment of Roger this season has been a letdown, he’s been a peripheral character that gets a few funny lines for the most part. I believe the writer’s are distancing us from Roger so that we miss him, and next season (I think) will be more Roger-centric. It was nice to see him interacting with Annabelle, a former lover of his, and to see Roger’s dedication to the woman everyone assumes is just a trophy wife. That’s been a really underrated theme in this season, that Roger actually does care for his 20-year old wife. We got to see a little vulnerability in Roger, which is rare, and we even got a nice Roger-Joan moment which will hopefully lead to her coming back to Sterling-Cooper before the season is over.

Also, one more thing that made this episode terrific – Suzanne. I kept waiting for her to show signs of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, especially since her brother isn’t all that stable, but it was just heart-breaking to see her realize that she can’t be with Don anymore. She asked “Do I have to worry about my job?” with such sadness, it just hurt, and you can tell it affected Don as well. I’ve been in that situation before, where for one reason or another you get carried away in something and eventually remember that you have made commitments to people. One of the most painful things a person can ever do is stop the potential for greatness with another human being, and though that may be a bit of a stretch with regards to Don and Suzanne’s relationship, you can’t tell me that them having a phone conversation in which their relationship abruptly ends isn’t more dramatic and lasting than having her go ballistic and stalk Don’s kids or turn his pet into a stew. If Suzanne went bat-shit insane, that would be an easy way to write her out, but instead they took the route of realism, which is much more fulfilling, and really speaks volumes about what Don and Betty must overcome to be happy with each other. It has to be real; it can’t just be thrown together by writer’s for the sake of a happy ending.

Again, this was a really superb episode and showed us why Mad Men is the best show on TV. It took some time to get to the meat of the season and I, for one, can’t wait to relish in the last couple of episodes. Expect the Kennedy Assassination to really shake things up with these characters.

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