Mad Men “The Milk and Honey Route” Review (Season 7 Episode 13)

Mad Men The Milk and Honey Route  Season 7 Episode 13 2

This week’s Mad Men inflicted an even more depressing level of storytelling than we’ve seen from the show in the past. It’s a perverse mother’s day episode. Whether you love her or hate her, Betty Draper has been the de facto matriarch since day one. She’s a marginally decent mother and wife, but for all her flaws, she loves her children. She has been working recently towards self-fulfillment and empowerment by returning to school, and her relationship with Sally has been improving. It’s all for nothing. Betty is dying.

After collapsing at school, Betty receives the devastating diagnosis that she has metastasized lung cancer and less than nine months to live. It’s a shocking turn of events and deeply saddening. What is going to happen to poor Sally and the other children? Will Don be able to take care of the boys? This is particularly heartbreaking for Sally. She’s so young and has had a difficult relationship with mother, but it’s obvious how much she loves her. To lose her mother at such a young age will be something from which she never fully recovers.

All Sally will have left is Don. Despite my feelings that there is never any reason for hope on Mad Men, I still have some that Don could step up and be there for his children. His phone call with Sally was cute, though it also was made during his wildly self-indulgent trip across the U.S. Don epitomizes irresponsibility and selfishness, so I worry that in the end the children will be left with no one.

Henry goes to see Sally to talk with her about Betty, which is completely inappropriate. How could he tell her? That wasn’t his place. That was up to Betty. I get that he did it because he loves Betty, but still. This is Sally’s mother. It’s a conversation they should have had together. It is absolutely heartbreaking when Sally returns home with Henry and Betty pushes past her. It’s a tragic example of the way people hurt each other by an inability to communicate. Betty can’t think past herself to imagine what kind of pain she inflicts on Sally by rejecting her.

Pete has his own share of problems. Duck has decided to take Pete on as his next project, whether Pete likes it or not. He secures him a impressive job offer. Pete is reluctant because he finally feels like he has a successful place in McCann. But at the same time, Pete is Pete. He’s tempted by the perks. Logistically, it looks impossible because he would have to leave Trudy and his daughter behind. He goes to see Trudy with the insane scheme that Trudy and Tammy come be his family again. It was so sweet when he told her that he loves her and has never loved anyone else. Maybe Pete should’ve accepted the job before getting Trudy on board. I can’t imagine that this is going to go off without a hitch.

The least interesting part of the episode was Don’s trip to the VFW. Maybe he’s never gotten over the trauma, but he has bigger problems now. He has a cathartic moment when he confesses that he killed his commanding officer. Rather than being judged by the men, he’s consoled. Maybe that’s what Don really needed—forgiveness from his peers. That doesn’t last long when the group’s money disappears. Of course, the shifty teenager is responsible, but they go after Don. There is a fundamental lesson to be learned from this and just about every horror movie ever made—when you’re stuck in some Podunk town because your car is broken down, get out of there as quickly as possible. It’s kind of amazing that even when Don is being victimized by the yokels, he still seems pathetic.

The episode closes with Sally reading the note Betty leaves for after her death. It’s mostly about what Betty wants done with her body, what dress she wants to be buried in, and how she wants her hair done. Not surprising that Betty is so concerned about her appearance even in the face of death. But at the end, she tells Sally that she loves her and knows that she will have a good life. Thanks Mad Men. Thanks for the tears.

As for Don, he pulls yet another self-destructive maneuver and gives his car to the thieving teenager. I’m so sick of Don’s idiotic behavior. If we left him at the bus stop and spent the last episode focused on everyone else, that would be ok with me.