Mad Men Season 3, Episode 10: "The Color Blue" - Recap

We may all be seeing the same thing, but each one of us sees it in a different way. Just as Suzanne Farrell is fascinated by her student's perceptive comment about everyone seeing a different shade of blue, we watch with fascination, yet some discomfort, as each Mad Men character's view of life is shattered by the intrusion of harsh reality this week. The things they thought they were seeing are really something altogether different.

The most spectacular implosion of a fantasy world belongs to Betty (January Jones) this week, as she finds the key to Don's locked desk drawer in his bathrobe pocket while doing the laundry. Finally, she gloats, she will be able to see what that rascal has been hiding all this time! What she finds is so unexpected, it knocks the wind out of her - Don's shoebox of old family photos, documents identifying him as Dick Whitman, and - most crushing - his divorce decree from Anna Draper.

Finally, Betty knows the truth. She is just about the last to find out, and although we are surprised that Don (Jon Hamm) was so careless as to leave the key where Betty could find it, we suspect that on some level, Don is feeling so suffocated by his double life that he subconsciously wants to be found out, so this can all be over. Poor, used Betty waits up for Don until the very early hours, then, exhausted and a little drunk, she finally gives up. The next morning, we find her lying lifelessly in bed, without the spirit to even get up. She comes This Close to confronting Don over the phone, but can't even muster the energy to follow through. Don convinces her to get all dolled-up to accompany him to the Sterling Cooper 40th anniversary dinner, at which he is scheduled to be honored. "I want to show you off," he tells her, and she is left cold and empty at the thought.

Don himself is the victim of reality intruding on his fantasy, but in a relatively minor way, compared to what must inevitably be on the horizon for him. He has entered into a full-blown affair with Suzanne Farrell, a woman of dubious mental stability who lives much too close to his home for this dalliance to go unnoticed for long. Again, we suspect he wants to get caught. Don's plans to spend the night with Suzanne are thwarted by the surprise arrival of her epileptic brother. After an initial round of pouting, Don rallies and offers to drive the brother to Boston as a favor to Suzanne. The brother clearly reminds Don of his own brother, and the contrast between Suzanne's responsible and loving treatment of him and Don's own cold and shoddy treatment of Adam sparks a good deal of regret and angst in Don. Of course, he isn't able to follow through on helping Suzanne's brother either, and ends up letting him off at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with some cash and his business card. That's going to come back to haunt him.

The principals at Sterling Cooper are unaware, as of yet, that the fantasy of their successful ad agency is about to be punctured (with the exception of Lane Pryce, who feels badly, but is hard-wired to do as he is told to the exclusion of all feeling). We find out that the 40th anniversary dinner is just an excuse to drum up interest in the sale of Sterling Cooper to the highest bidder. The party scene at the end, filled with well-dressed people basking in the glow of money and privilege, feels like the last night before a war.

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