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The Wheel
The wheel.jpg
Season 1 Episode 13
Air date 18 October 2007
Written by Matthew Weiner
Robin Veith
Directed by Matthew Weiner

Nixon vs. Kennedy
For Those Who Think Young


Betty discovers a secret, leading her to re-evaluate her marital situation. Peggy gets promoted but receives news that may interfere with her career. Pete brings in an account through his father-in-law but has to commit to his wife in return. Don's professional and private lives affect each other in curious ways as he's left to fend for himself. Don elects not to spend Thanksgiving with Betty's family.


The episode begins the week of Thanksgiving, 1960. Pete Campbell sits with his father-in-law, Tom, who knows Pete was passed over for a promotion. Tom thinks it's time to take focus off work. "The only family and business you should be mixing is the production of a child," he says.

Pete, Trudy and family, in The Wheel.

At the Draper residence, Betty Hofstadt makes a list of things to bring to her family's home for Thanksgiving. Don, squinting to read a magazine, explains that he can't join her because of his workload as a new partner. "I don't understand why you can't make my family your family," Betty says, concerned for the real reason why he doesn't want to leave the city.

Meanwhile that night, Harry, who had sex with Pete's secretary Hildy in the previous episode, sits in his office and pleads to his wife, Jennifer, to let him come home. She rejects the idea, so he settles in for the night.

Herman Phillips and Don, in The Wheel.

The next day, Betty comes home from the store to find Francine at the door, distraught. She tells Betty that she was paying the phone bill, something Carlton normally does, when she noticed a lot of long-distance calls to Manhattan. She called a number, and a woman answered. That, and the fact that he sleeps at the Waldorf two nights a week, makes her believe he's having an affair. Betty tries to comfort her. Francine and Betty are glad that Carlton doesn't know that she knows. Francine says she wishes she could just poison him and then leaves, embarrassed. Betty walks straight into Don's study, picks up the sealed phone bill with some trepidation, and slips it into her pocket.

Meanwhile, Herman Phillips holds his first meeting with the ad men at Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. He's aggressive and commanding. He explains that he is disappointed with their current clientele. "No automobile, airline, pharmaceuticals," he says. "People want cars, they want to fly." He passes out a list of people they should be wining and dining, offers incentives to the account men for meetings, and mentions that Kodak, and their new slide projector, is on the market.



Back at the Draper residence, Don Draper arrives home and Betty tells him about Francine's situation. "How could someone do that to the person they love?" she says, watching him. He tells her not to worry.

At the office, Herman Phillips puts the Kodak Carousel slide projector on Don's desk, and refers to it as a 'donut'. He explains that it does not jam and is continuous like a wheel. Don jokes that "Kodak reinvented The Wheel".

Peggy and Ken audition women for the Relax-a-Cizor, in The Wheel.

Over in the engineer's booth, Ken and Peggy watch as three women audition their vocal talents for the "Relax-a-Cizor" on the other side of the glass. Peggy opts to go with Annie, despite Ken's partiality to the more attractive Rita. As Annie stands in front of a music stand and reads the copy into the microphone, Peggy isn't satisfied. She interrupts multiple times to get Annie to speak with more confidence and beauty, which flusters Annie, and she ultimately has trouble saying anything at all. She wants to take a break, but Peggy keeps interrupting her, and she gets choked up.

"This is not working out," Peggy says. "We're going to have to let you go." As Annie cries, Peggy tells Ken to console her and then have Rita come in for the job.

Don sits in his office, looking at a slide from a box labeled "Cape May". He takes another out, holds it up to the lamp, laughs, and swaps it for another. Then, he takes the photo of him and Adam riding horses in 1944 from the shoebox. Unlike the slides, he stares at this one for a long time before he picks up the phone to call Brighton Hotel. He asks to get forwarding information on Adam, who Don expects will have left town with the $5000 Don gave him.

Don learns of Adam passing, in The Wheel.

"Jesus, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but he hung himself," says the night manager. "He left the building a bunch of money. The city took it." A distraught Don bows his head and weeps.

That night, Betty eyes the phone bill, noticing eight calls to Manhattan. She picks up the phone and dials the number slowly. After a few rings, a man's voice picks up. "Who is this?" Betty asks. It's Arnold Wayne, her psychiatrist, who thinks a different patient is calling. She hangs up, shocked at what this means, a betrayal different from the infidelity she was expecting.

The next day, Betty pulls up to a bank, and on her way in, she sees Glen Bishop, Helen Bishop's son, in the passenger seat of Helen's green Volkswagen. She walks over.

"I'm not supposed to talk to you," Glen says, shyly, although he doesn't say exactly why. She says she doesn't care. "I can't talk to anyone, I'm so sad," she says. "Please tell me I'll be okay." He reaches his hand up to her and tells her that he wishes he were older.

Betty confides in Glen, in The Wheel.

That afternoon, Pete tells Don how he took Duck Phillips's talk seriously. He brought in a pharmaceutical account from his father-in-law's company, Vick's Chemical, called Clearasil. Don, concealing any hint of what his true feelings might be, says that he's impressed. Pete's connection, and subsequent investment in Sterling Cooper, got him a bonus from Bertram Cooper, along with the Ayn Rand book Atlas Shrugged.

At Dr. Wayne's office, Betty talks about how nerve-wracking it is to get the family together for Thanksgiving. "Being able to talk, just me and you, has helped," she says. "Still, I can't help but think that I'd be happy if my husband was faithful to me." As she sneaks a peek back at him, Betty says she feels sorry for Don but should be angry. "The way he makes love, sometimes it's what I want, sometimes it's obviously what someone else wants," she continues, inhaling her cigarette.

Slide of Don and Betty's wedding, during "The Carousel" pitch, The Wheel.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Don hosts a meeting with the Kodak clients. He turns on the projector and flips through slides of him with his newborn baby or the family on Christmas morning. Don's voice, full of emotion for this pitch, says "Teddy told me that in Greek, 'nostalgia' literally means 'the pain from an old wound.' It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine," he says. "It goes backwards and forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again."

"It's not called 'The Wheel,'" he continues. "It's called 'The Carousel.' It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again. A place where we know that you're loved. " He concludes with an image of him and Betty kissing on New Year's. Overwhelmed with emotion, Harry starts crying and leaves the room. The Kodak clients, equally impressed, cancel their meetings with other agencies.

While they celebrate this victory, Don, showing his revenge against Pete, tells him that because young girls buy the blemish clearing Clearasil, Peggy would be the perfect writer for the account. Pete thinks Don is joking, and when he realizes Don is serious, explodes with anger. "Peggy is not even a copywriter," he protests. "She's a secretary." With that, Don calls Peggy into his office and immediately makes her a junior copywriter with Clearasil as her first task. Pete storms out of the room.

Peggy's reaction to the Dr, telling her she's expecting.

Joan showing Peggy into her new office. Episode: The Wheel.

As Joan Holloway puts Peggy into a shared office with writer Victor Manny, she reminds Peggy to recognize where she came from or her new job might become doubly difficult. Just then, Peggy grimaces, trying to hide a sidesplitting pain. When her stomachache persists, she goes to the doctor.

"Honey, you didn't mention that you were expecting," Dr. Oliver says to Peggy, and Peggy insists that is impossible. She is taken to maternity, and the doctor tells the nurse to call in a psychiatrist for her. That night, a nurse brings a swaddled baby boy to Peggy and encourages her to feed him. She just turns her head away.

Pete heads home, clearly drunk, to meet his in-laws and wife. Instead of spending time with them celebrating, he slinks off to lie down.

Don returns to an empty house, in The Wheel.

As he rides the train back to Ossining, Don imagines arriving home as Betty and the kids have finished packing for their trip. "I'm coming with you," Don says. Betty, emotional, watches as he picks up the kids, as they yell out in delight, "Daddy!" When he really does arrive home he finds the house empty. He sits, alone, on the stairs, looking dejected.

Closing song: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Bob Dylan.


  • The woman on the left during the voice casting session is an intern/writer’s assistant on the show.
  • Jon Hamm changed a line in this episode, “signature of the artist” was originally “mark of the shaman”, but Jon felt Don wouldn’t say that.
  • The background (above the hedges) during the parking lot scene with Betty and Glen is CGI. It was over 100 degrees outside when the scene was shot.
  • Harry was originally supposed to be crying throughout "The Carousel" scene.
  • Jon Hamm is looking at a blank screen when he gives the presentation for "The Carousel". The pictures were added later.
  • The scene with everyone celebrating in Don’s office is a callback to the pilot. Additionally, Peggy and Joan walking and talking throughout the office is another callback to the pilot.


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File:Mad Men Episode 13


Don Draper: "Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means, the pain from an old wound. Its a twinge, in your heart. Far more powerful then memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, its a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place, where we ache to go again. It's not called "The Wheel". Its called "The Carousel". It lets us travel in a way a child travels. Round and round, and then back home again. To a place where we know we are loved."
-- Don pitching "The Carousel" to Kodak, in The Wheel.

Joan: "I said congratulations didn't I?... Although, when people get what they want they realize how limited their goals were."
-- Joan showing Peggy into her new office.

Seasons of Mad Men
Season 1 • "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" • "Ladies Room" • "Marriage of Figaro" • "New Amsterdam" • "5G" • "Babylon" • "Red in the Face" • "The Hobo Code" • "Shoot" • "Long Weekend" • "Indian Summer" • "Nixon vs. Kennedy" • "The Wheel" •
Season 2 • "For Those Who Think Young" • "Flight 1" • "The Benefactor" • "Three Sundays" • "The New Girl" • "Maidenform" • "The Gold Violin" • "A Night to Remember" • "Six Month Leave" • "The Inheritance" • "The Jet Set" • "The Mountain King" • "Meditations in an Emergency" •
Season 3 • "Out of Town" • "Love Among the Ruins" • "My Old Kentucky Home" • "The Arrangements" • "The Fog" • "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" • "Seven Twenty Three" • "Souvenir" • "Wee Small Hours" • "The Color Blue" • "The Gypsy and the Hobo" • "The Grown-Ups" • "Shut the Door. Have a Seat" •
Season 4 • "Public Relations" • "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" • "The Good News" • "The Rejected" • "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" • "Waldorf Stories" • "The Suitcase" • "The Summer Man" • "The Beautiful Girls" • "Hands and Knees" • "Chinese Wall" • "Blowing Smoke" • "Tomorrowland" •
Season 5 • "A Little Kiss, Part 1" • "A Little Kiss, Part 2" • "Tea Leaves" • "Mystery Date" • "Signal 30" • "Far Away Places" • "At the Codfish Ball" • "Lady Lazarus" • "Dark Shadows" • "Christmas Waltz" • "The Other Woman" • "Commissions and Fees" • "The Phantom" •
Season 6 • "The Doorway, Part 1" • "The Doorway, Part 2" • "The Collaborators" • "To Have and To Hold" • "The Flood" • "For Immediate Release" • "Man With a Plan" • "The Crash" • "The Better Half" • "A Tale of Two Cities" • "Favors" • "The Quality of Mercy" • "In Care Of" •
Season 7 • "Time Zones" • "A Day's Work" • "Field Trip" • "The Monolith" • "The Runaways" • "The Strategy" • "Waterloo" • "Severance" • "New Business" • "The Forecast" • "Time & Life" • "Lost Horizon" • "The Milk and Honey Route" • "Person to Person" •