Anyhow, Don has an inspiring flashback about how his father selfishly refused to help out his cooperative when the wheat price was too low, and this made him decide to storm into Cooper's office with the wacky scheme that they buy back Sterling Coop from PPL. Now, maybe it's just because I've been doing LSAT prep, but that logic seems pretty far-stretched. So, Old Man Whitman was a jackass and screwed his buddies, so you're going to save the company from corporate death? I'm...just going to hope this is explained later.
At first, Bert balks at the idea of taking back what is rightfully theirs, but then comes around with a pretty sound business plan of securing their major accounts. The obstacle: Roger Sterling. American Tobacco, their biggest client, is all in the hands of Roger, so they have to convince him to join their rebel club.
Predictably, Roger doesn't care where he works, and doesn't want to sacrifice his easily-earned fortune buying back the company. He forces Don to apologize, say how much they need Roger, yadda, yadda. After some coercing, Roger agrees.
They sit our friend Lane down, "Shut the door. Have a seat." And announce their plans to buy back Sterling Coop. The problem is that the price has risen too sharply, and their offer isn't high enough. McCann offered a better deal, so they're out of luck.
Speaking of out of luck, Betty announces that she's going to see a divorce lawyer, and suggests Don do the same. Don makes some vague pleas about not breaking up the family, to which Betty replies, "I'm not the one who broke up this family!" Oooh, sick burn.
In the lawyer's office, we see once again how arduous the divorce process is in New York. The lawyer suggests that Betty go to Reno, establish residency in six weeks (six weeks!) and do the divorce there. Don doesn't even have to go, he just has to consent. The lawyer then asks about a settlement, and Henry immediately jumps in. "I don't want you to owe him anything," he says, and promises to provide for both Betty and the kids.
Let's reiterate: a man who has spent a total of 45 minutes with Betty, tops, doesn't want her to get a settlement from her husband, promises to take care of children he has never met, and says he wants to get this done "as quickly as possible"? Really? I mean, really?
We then get to see another glimpse into Dick Whitman's past. In the aftermath of his decision to stockpile the wheat and wait for prices to raise, Mrs. Whitman puts the smackdown on that idea, and tells him he has to sell so they won't lose their house. Old Man Whitman goes out to the stable, drunk as a skunk, with Dick in tow. A thunderclap rings through the sky, the horse bucks, and Old Man Whitman finds himself flat on the ground, gushing blood.
So, the lesson is: if you first try to screw your friends, then renege because your wife tells you to, you'll die? Help me out here, Mad Men, I'm trying to work with you.
In the wake of this potent recollection, Don hatches up a new scheme. He'll get Lane to fire Cooper, Sterling, and himself, since he has complete authority over hiring and firing, in order to release them from their contracts. In return, they'll make him a partner, and even consider putting his name on the door. Apparently Cooper isn't the only vain one, as Lane agrees. They need to assemble as many accounts as possible and a skeleton crew to ensure continuity of services. Oh, and they have to steal a bunch of office equipment.
Don immediately starts to prioritize his staff, first asking for the whereabouts of Pete Campbell (he's out sick) then yelling for Peggy to join him in his office. First off - really? Pete Campbell? The dude who tried to blackmail you and is an asslicking, ineffective ninny? Really, Don?
Anyway, his second choice, Peggy, also ends up disappointing. After assuming that she'll follow him, Peggy stands up for herself, saying that won't follow Don around like a nervous poodle, and doesn't want to make a career out of standing in his shadow, being blamed for his mistakes and getting none of the credit for her work. Good for you, Peggy! Make Don give you a much better offer, or take advantage of Duck's generous offer (not that one, you guys. Sheesh. Bunch of dirty minds around here.)
So, it turns out that Pete isn't really sick, but having interviews at rival firms, after deciding to leave Sterling Coop when he didn't get the promotion. Don and Roger make a house call, and ask Pete to join the new company. In the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that Don and Roger are using Pete for his accounts, since they need way more money to make this thing work. They give him some bullshit about him being forward looking. Pete agrees. Whew. For a second there, I thought Don actually like Pete. Carry on.
Over drinks at the bar, Don drops the bomb that he's getting a divorce. "So it's true?" Roger replies. Don has no idea what he's talking about. Oooh, Roger, really? Yikes. Apparently, Roger heard about Betty and Henry from Margaret, who heard it from Henry's daughter. It's serious, Roger says.
So, in a great decision, Don decides to go home and rough Betty up a bit, call her a whore, you know, the usual, mature things you do when you realize you're not the only cheater in the relationship. Dammit, Don, don't be like that. Sure, Betty's a brat, just like you said, but your past as a hick who changed his name has nothing to do with this. You cheated and you lied for years, and don't make this about Betty. Harrumph.
Back to Sterling Coop, they hold a secret meeting to steal all the files, and ask Harry Crane to be the new head of media. He doesn't really answer, which I assume means yes. Now, down to the nitty gritty - where are the time sheets? Where are the account books? No one has any idea. No one knows how the office works. But you know who does? Yeah, that's right, Joan Holloway Harris!
But there's one important member of this gang missing from the festivities: Don. Turns out he's at home having the worst "We're getting a divorce" conservation with his kids in history. Betty says he's moving out, Don says it's temporary, Betty says no it's not, the kids are understandably confused. But you'll get to have two Christmases, guys! They only want one Christmas. Sally is convinced that it's all Betty's fault (typical) and Bobby is confused (also typical). Everyone is sad. Guys, you really should have had a better game plan going into this, and not contradicted each other in front of the little 'uns. Man, you two suck at divorce.
Don runs straight from that shit show over to Peggy's digs, and begs her to join the new company. He doesn't think he can do it without her, he sees her as an extension of himself, you know, all the nice things he should be saying to his wife right about now if he wants to save their marriage. But, it works on Peggy, and she joins the team.
Everyone assembles at Sterling Coop: Bert, Roger, Harry, Pete, Lane, Don, Peggy, and Joan. Can you say dream team? After they find out the art department is closed, Don literally kicks it down, and the move out begins.
They relocate to the Pierre Hotel, under the new mast head Sterling Cooper Draper Price. It's quite a mouth full, but the bustling, excited energy in the room bristles with possibility.
Don makes a call to Betty, reneging on his earlier, ghastly behavior, and says he won't fight her. They have a poignant goodbye, and Betty takes off for Reno.
The final shot of the season is Don moving into his new, furnished apartment in the city.
Excitement! The fourth season is set for more intra-office drama, rather than the familiar and personal storylines that dominated the second and third seasons. And while those were great, the core of Mad Men is certainly the office shenanigans. I predict that Kinsey and Ken will try to join the new agency, and Joan and Roger will reignite their romance. I'm concerned, though, that the goodbye Don gave to Betty will also be the last we see of her. Are Betty and Henry preparing to fly off in the sunset, only to be seen in tense encounters of visitation rights? I'm not afraid to say I'll miss her, and I'm very curious to know what happens between her and Henry.
Until next summer, when we see what our good friends at SCDP are up to!