Don is stuck in Oklahoma after his car breaks down. Betty discovers that she is not in good health. Pete gets an unexpected job offer that could enable him to get his life with Trudy and his daughter back.
After leaving Racine, Don decides not to return to New York, but rather drive around the country and Sally is one of the few people he has let know. He ends up getting stranded in Ava, Oklahoma with car troubles. As he waits for his car to get fixed, he gets to know Del and Sharon, the owners of the motel where he is staying, and Andy, the motel's young housekeeper. All three and Del's closest group of friends affect Don's life in different ways. Don, in turn, ends up affecting Andy's life in more ways than one. With Don AWOL, Jim Hobart has called in Duck Phillips to find a replacement. Running into Pete at the McCann offices, Duck thinks he has a mutually beneficial arrangement for Pete. Pete ends up humoring Duck partly out of a sense of owing him a favor, not wanting Jim even to know that he and Duck talked. But as Pete goes through the process, Trudy gets peripherally involved, which makes Pete think not only about what he is doing with Duck, but what he wants in his personal life. Back at college, Betty seems content for the first time in years. An incident that happens to Betty at school leads to some information which will affect the entire Francis household, but with which Betty, in her new contented state, is the most at peace.
Don is still on the road and is obviously never returning to McCann Erickson. When his car breaks down, he finds himself living in a motel for several days. An evening out with the motel owner leads to a difficult situation. In New York, Duck Phillips cons Pete into going to a meeting with someone from Wichita-based Learjet that turns out to be a job interview. Pete's quite happy at McCann and isn't really interested but they won't take no for an answer. After falling at school and cracking a rib, Betty gets very bad news from her doctor.
- "Mad Men" - "The Milk and Honey Route" - May 10, 2015
It is the penultimate episode and we get three stories, perhaps seeing the final ending for two characters.
First up is Betty whose ending looks like it will, sadly, be permanent.
We see her head off to school but, having trouble breathing, she collapses on the stairs. But she has more than a broken rib to worry about. It turns out that she has lung cancer. She sits and listens as the doctor talks only to Henry about her prognosis-- 9 months-- and her treatment-- radiation that would merely be palliative.
She doesn't want to tell the kids just yet but Henry, unable to convince her to be more aggressive in attacking the cancer, breaks down with Sally at school and beseeches her to try and convince her mother to fight harder. It is an incredibly touching scene as, at first, Sally covers her ears as if to block out the news and then, when Henry tells her it's okay to cry, Sally doesn't, but he does, wondering what he is going to do without his beloved Betty.
When he brings Sally home to talk to her, Betty ignores her. But later she goes to Sally and gives her a note to open when she is gone with her funeral instructions. Sally is heartbroken that Betty doesn't want to fight but Betty say she is no quitter and has fought for many things in her life, but she says is also blessed with knowing when it is time to move on and now is that time. Sally reads the note the next day and breaks down into tears. And we see Betty head back to school, walking up that same staircase.
Next up are Pete and Trudy.
After a day spent with Tammy in the park-- during which she got stung by a bee-- Pete looks lovingly at his ex-wife and daughter as he leaves her room. He gets sentimental over pie later in the kitchen but Trudy is unmoved, admiring his ability to be nostalgic when she herself cannot forget exactly how tough things could be between them.
Enter, or re-enter, Duck Phillips. Duck-- who is still drinking heavily-- arrives at McCann-Erickson under the pretense that he needs Pete's help to place a new marketing director at a start up Lear jet company. The company specializes in ferrying around the rich and famous-- like Elizabeth Taylor-- but Duck sees the future in them working with high-powered corporate clients who could also become Pete's advertising clients.
But after Pete reluctantly agrees to dinner with the Lear jet executive they both realize that Duck lied to him-- telling the exec that Pete was a candidate for the actual job itself. The two really hit it off though and enjoy their expensive meal on Duck. But when Pete starts thinking about the possibilities of the job he invites his brother out to dinner to mull it over. Their conversation gets sidetracked into one about infidelity and the fear of missing out, and how they inherited these traits from their dad. His brother rethinks his rendezvous with his mistress and Pete's wheels are clearly turning.
In having dinner with his brother, Pete blew off the second meeting with the Lear jet exec. Duck shows up to Pete's house late night, drunk, crowing that the exec thought Pete did this as a bargaining tactic and that the executive is now prepared not only to offer him the job-- at 100k a year plus unlimited use of a private jet-- but he's willing to offer him a signing bonus and stock options that would make up for the money he would be leaving on the table at McCann.
Pete goes to Trudy's house at 4 in the morning and essentially asks her to run away with him. He begs for a new start, promises he's not as dumb as he used to be, sells the perks of the new job and making a new start in Wichita, KS and that he has never stopped loving her. Trudy is, understandably, reluctant at first but it's clear she still loves Pete too and they kiss and she agrees to go with him. As Pete leaves he smiles slyly at her and says "Good morning." It is very sweet.
And finally we have the tale of Don the drifter. He calls Sally-- before she learns about Betty's cancer-- and tells her he's currently in Kansas and is headed to the Grand Canyon and they have a mundane conversation about school, field hockey and an upcoming trip she is taking to Madrid.
Later, his car breaks down in Oklahoma and he is staying at a roadside motel with friendly proprietors but a con man of a "maid" while it gets fixed.
The young man offers to get Don a bottle of whiskey but when he arrives with it, holds it hostage for another $10 payout. Don is annoyed but thinks the kid has chutzpah and also knows Don can afford it and seems very impressed when he learns he made his money in advertising, like on TV. He heads to the pool and reads "The Godfather" and ogles a nearby woman.
When his TV goes on the blink he goes to the office and after helping the woman change a typewriter ribbon, she notes that her husband would really love for him to come share stories with him at the local American Legion outpost Saturday night. Don says if his car is still in the shop he just might.
If only he had stuck to his guns. Don gets the car fixed and is about to leave when the man asks him to stay throwing in a free night for the room.
Don goes to the Legion and drinks and BS-es with the other veterans. ,He notices his "maid" is also working here as a bartender. Turns out it's a fundraiser for another vet and he throws in $40. By the end of the night-- once everyone is good and drunk-- Don tells his war story, of accidentally killing his CO. The other men are sympathetic.
That sympathy is not in evidence later, however, when the fundraising money goes missing and they suspect Don. They come to his room and beat him with a phone book and take his car keys, saying he can have the car back when he returns the money.
Of course Don knows the kid stole the money so when he shows up to clean his room he confronts him. He tells him he has terrible instincts for a con man and he needs to smarten up and give the money back or else he will spend his life on the run, pretending to be someone else and, as Don knows, that's no way to live.
The kid gives him the bag of money back and Don returns it to the motel owner, who gives Don his car keys. The kid is outside with his belongings and asks for a ride to the bus stop. Don does him one better: when they get to the bus stop he gives the kid the car and gets out. We close him on sitting on a bench.