Betty Draper (January Jones) begins to face the reality of her father Gene’s stroke and his onset of dementia or failing memory. She is under no illusions that she does not need Don (Jon Hamm) and calls him at his hotel to join her on a visit to Gene’s house. Betty is growing more aware of her circumstances and who she really is. She demonstrates that in her communication of new limits and boundaries to Don.
The recap below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 10: "The Inheritance." If you haven't seen Episode 10 check out the Mad Men Schedule to see when we're airing encore presentations or download it on iTunes.
Betty and Don quickly arrive at Gene Hofstadt’s (Ryan Cutrona) house where he tellingly confuses Betty for her similar-looking dead mother – Ruth (the pretty woman in the portrait). Betty tells her brother William (Eric Ladin) to “stop counting other people’s money”; it is evident that familial vultures are circling. The family awkwardly confronts Gene’s decline.
Betty recognizes the situation and she asserts herself with Don. We hear her new-found voice tell him to “stop it…nobody is watching.” We see her send Don away from their home with his suitcase: “Nothing’s changed. We were just pretending” and not really making love at her father Gene’s. Yet in Betty’s heart, she knows she relies on Don for personal and parental support. The decision to divorce is heavier than the property. Betty admits, “Sometimes I think I’ll float away if Don isn’t holding me down.”
The later encounter with run-away Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) reinforces the precarious status and doubled responsibilities of a divorced parent carrying for children. Glen is acting out and displaying anger (“I hate you”) because his mother Helen Bishop (Darby Stanchfield) cannot properly care for him or be attentive enough to meet Glen’s growing psychological needs as an early adolescent.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) resists the notion of adopting a child with Trudy. His mother even threatens disinheritance. The irony is that the father’s inheritance is empty because the father spent all the money – “spent it with stranger.”
Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) gets bumped from the California convention trip by Don Draper. He joins girlfriend Sheila (Donielle Artese) along with Negro (in those days) Freedom Riders on a bus to Mississippi. That makes him a “fellow traveler” in the anti-Communist lexicon on the day. They ride down to low and dark regions -- the “scary” zone – with high purpose to register voters. They travel into the Sixties without knowledge or experience of where America is headed. Meanwhile Don and Pete Campbell fly off to the golden Pacific on the musical sounds of the satellite “Telstar.”