Mad Men: Ensemble Characters Declare Independence

05/15/2015 02:29 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2016

One day a nice guy, an acquaintance, sought my counsel about a new car he just bought. Why me I'll never know. We then stepped outside from where I worked during my 15-minute break, and there in the parking lot was his new silver Mercedes-Benz two-door coupe. While I listened, he obviously had buyer's remorse. I knew he had a girlfriend. So as he seemed leaning toward selling the car, I tried convincing him first of the idea of taking a road trip with his girlfriend. Go someplace majestic, like Colorado Rocky Mountains or Tetons by Jackson Hole, both places I've visited. In other words before selling, go a week at least and make a memory. Near the end of season 7's episode 12 of AMC's Mad Men titled, "Lost Horizon," CEO Jim Hobart of ad agency McCann Erickson also experiences buyer's remorse, big time.

"Are any of you planning to work here or is this the con of the century?" asks the McCann CEO directing his ire at Roger Sterling, former partner of Sterling Cooper & Partners (SC&P). Roger Sterling had engineered a merger deal with McCann Erickson in season 7 episode 7 titled, "Waterloo." Though McCann bought the slimmer rival ad agency SC&P with a 51 percent stake, one of the main stipulations was that SC&P will remain an independent subsidiary, thereby SC&P will still remain at their two-floor location at the Time-Life Building. Yet in season 7, episode 11 titled "Time & Life," McCann threw a complete surprise to all the partners of SC&P, informing them that all will be moved over into the McCann building.

"Look, calm down. We're all just settling in," Roger Sterling says to Jim Hobart in the "Lost Horizon" episode in the McCann CEO's office. "Calm down? Where the hell is Don? He walked out of a meeting Wednesday (the Miller Beer account) and hasn't come back," Hobart quickly replied. "He does that," Sterling stated simply. Then the McCann CEO says gruffly, "Well, you may have sold me a rotten apple, but it's not too late to let the ax fly. Starting with that redhead." That last sentence certainly got Roger's attention, to which he replied, "Joan?" Followed by the CEO of McCann Erickson saying, "I don't want to hear her name again." But before getting to Joan Holloway former junior partner of SC&P, let's start first with Don Draper.

When we last saw Don Draper former senior partner and creative director of SC&P, played wonderfully by Jon Hamm, he was calling his teen daughter Sally from a Kansas motel. Making her aware of his current road trip itinerary. Or appearing more like Don Draper's road trip odyssey, from the recent season 7 episode 13, titled, "The Milk and Honey Route," written by Carly Wray, and co-written by Mad Men TV series creator and writer Matthew Weiner.

But before that, it was just as the McCann CEO had said. Don Draper literally walked out. Leaving the Miller Beer account meeting shortly after it even began, after observing the robotic behavior of the McCann execs while all listened to the speaker's idea behind Miller's new diet beer, Don Draper decides to hit the road in that "Lost Horizon" episode. And his first stop, Racine, Wisconsin to see Diana Bauer. The waitress he met back in season 7's episode 8, titled, "Severance." Only he gets there and she's nowhere to be found. And thus his odyssey continues.

It's understandable that McCann CEO Jim Hobart would be upset. He's always admired Don Draper. Thus, he had tried to lure Draper to McCann Erickson as far back in season 1 episode 9, with that story taking place in 1960. Now in 1970 near beginning of the "Lost Horizon" episode, Hobart says, "...I've been trying to get you for ten years. You're my white whale, Don." But Hobart forgets, that the white whale in the book Moby Dick, though injured, also got away.

Joan Holloway also gets away. Beginning by no fault of her own. For after a McCann exec thoughtlessly botches her Avon account, she seeks senior McCann exec Ferguson Donnelly. The matter gets worse the next day after meeting CEO Jim Hobart, who ultimately gives her an offer. And that is, she is to leave with half her ownership stake and to never return. By mentioning in my previous blog about Joan's boyfriend Richard, it wasn't to imply that he would send a Luca Brasi of The Godfather after Hobart. But only to suggest that being Joan's boyfriend, and knowing what he now knows, that he now can't help but take covert action by seeking someone used to dealing with those in power. I could be wrong, but I still think he will in the series finale.

And continuing on the theme of those getting away, or in this case planning on getting away, there's Pete Campbell. Message to Pete Campbell, stay away from Herman "Duck" Phillips. After all, he did try to recruit then copywriter Peggy Olson to leave then Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) in season 4's episode 7, titled, "The Suitcase." Duck was drunk then when he tried to recruit Peggy as she was smart enough to turn him down. And he's certainly drunk now as he's trying to recruit Campbell to leave McCann Erickson for Learjet. Pete Campbell is hard to like, true. Yet not saying he shouldn't leave McCann. Just as Peggy Olson also took advice from the head hunter to try McCann for no more than three years in season 7 episode 11. But in this case look at the messenger. Still one can't help but want what's best for him and Trudy, even though they are currently divorced. In any case, I think those Mad Men writers are up to something after having watched the May 10, 2015 episode, titled, "The Milk and Honey Route."

So there you have it, Joan Holloway's departure, acted by Christina Hendricks, and Pete Campbell's probable departure, acted by Vincent Kartheiser, both following closely after the heels of Don Draper's departure from McCann. And while Roger Sterling, acted by John Slattery, may still be getting his bearings at McCann, the last former SC&P partner Ted Chaough, acted by Kevin Rahm, seemed content when we last saw him watch Don Draper leave the Miller Beer account meeting. Such is the current status of the former five partners. Now onto Betty Francis, ex-wife of Don Draper.

The episode, "The Milk and Honey Route," was undeniably poignant on several levels. For faithful viewers also now know of the cancer diagnosis of Betty Francis, and the effects of her diagnosis upon her daughter Sally, and her husband Henry, while she conducts herself stoically and bravely. We also learn the near approximate date of the story of this episode, happening on October 3, 1970, which was the date written on the note of final instructions Betty gives to daughter Sally, wonderfully played since Mad Men began in 2007 by actress Kiernan Shipka. Needless to say, I expect some kind of Emmy nomination either in the way of acting or writing, or possibly both, from this episode. Betty Francis, played by January Jones, decides to act upon her diagnosis in her own way, and thereby also staking her own declaration of independence.

I can hardly wait for the series finale. Fans may predict what's planned, but as former heavyweight fighter Mike Tyson had said, "Everybody has a plan until they get hit." And I expect we Mad Men fans will definitely get hit.