"Mad Men" The Wheel (TV Episode 2007) - Plot Summary Poster

(TV Series)



Showing all 3 items
Jump to:


  • Don and Betty Draper have an argument when it becomes apparent that he doesn't want to spend Thanksgiving with her family and she plans on going only with the children. He also learns some information about his brother Adam. Pete Campbell confirms that he has landed an account from his father-in-law for a new skin care product called Clearasil. He objects however when Don gives the account to Peggy Olson, whom he has just promoted to junior copywriter. Peggy proves her mettle in auditions for the weight loss device but later is feeling unwell and goes to the hospital where she is given some shocking news. Don comes up with a brilliant presentation for Kodak on a new wheel-like storage device for a slide projector that he dubs The Carousel.

  • It's Thanksgiving in a few days, but the family nature of the holidays will be difficult for many to achieve. Don refuses to join Betty and the children with her family for the holidays, he balking at the notion of the long drive and short time to spend there. Harry has been sleeping at the office following the rift with his girlfriend, Jennifer, the fight because of his sexual liaison with Hildy. Pete is feeling emasculated by his father-in-law, Vick's executive Tom Vogel, who wants Pete to focus on Trudy and starting a family instead of work, which is all he wants to focus on following losing out on the head of accounts job. After finally looking at the box sent to him by Adam, Don reaches out to Adam only to find out what happened to him. And Francine has what she considers proof that Carlton has been cheating on her. Francine turns to Betty for comfort and advice, implying that Betty must know through what she is going. It does make Betty think about her own situation. What Betty finds out, using Francine's play-book, is not quite what she expects. But it makes Betty take decisive action about her own situation, either consciously or subconsciously. Meanwhile, Duck Phillips has started work at Sterling Cooper. He sets a directive for the accounts executives to be aggressive in obtaining accounts, that aggressiveness which he himself demonstrates by getting a meeting with Kodak possibly for their account for their new slide projector. As the projector recreates the wheel, they want the creative to reflect that aspect. Pete takes Duck's talk to heart, but the outcome of Pete's action is not quite what he expects or wants. And Peggy gets two pieces of unexpected news, one which could threaten her meteoric rise at Sterling Cooper.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Pete 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.

    At the Draper residence, Betty makes a list of things to bring to her familys home for Thanksgiving. Don, squinting to read a magazine, explains that he cant 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, aware of Don's real reasons for backing out.

    Meanwhile that night, Harry sits in his office and pleads to his wife to let him come home. She rejects the idea, and he settles in for the night.

    The next day, Betty comes home from picking up acorn squash to find Francine at the door, distraught. She tells Betty that she was paying the phone bill -- something Carlton normally does -- when she noticed 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, but Francine says she wishes she could just poison him and then leaves, embarrassed. Then, Betty walks straight into Don's study, grabs the sealed phone bill and slips it into her pocket.

    Meanwhile, Duck Phillips holds his first meeting with the ad men at Sterling Cooper. He's 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 and mentions that Kodak -- and their new slide projector -- is on the market.

    Back at the Drapers, Don 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 encourages her not to worry.

    At the office, Duck puts the carousel slide projector on Don's desk and explains that the delightfully mechanical gadget doesn't jam and is continuous like a wheel. "Kodak reinvented The Wheel" Don says, joking.

    Over in the engineers 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 Kens partiality to Rita. As Annie stands in front of a music stand and reads the copy into the microphone, Peggy isn't satisfied. She interrupts several times to get Annie to speak with more confidence and beauty. But when Annie doesn't understand Peggys suggestions, 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 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 for any information on Adam, a former tenant.

    "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."

    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 mans voice picks up. "Who is this?" Betty asks. It's Dr. Arnold Wayne, her psychiatrist, who doesn't recognise her voice . She hangs up, shocked and ashamed.

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

    "I'm not supposed to talk to you," Glen says, shyly. She says she doesn't care. "I can't talk to anyone -- Im 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.

    That afternoon, Pete tells Don how he took Ducks talk seriously. He brought in a pharmaceutical account from his father-in-laws company, Vicks Chemical, called Clearasil. Don admits that he's impressed. Pete's connection -- and subsequent investment in Sterling Cooper -- got him a bonus from Cooper, along with the Ayn Rand book.

    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.

    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. "This is not a spaceship, it's a time machine," he says. "It goes backwards and forwards, and 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 let's us travel around and around and back home again." He concludes with an image of him and Betty kissing on New Years. 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 tells Pete that because young girls buy the blemish-busting Clearasil, Peggy would be the perfect writer for the account.

    "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.

    As Joan puts Peggy into a shared office with writer Victor Manny, she encourages 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. She replies that that's impossible, and is about to leave when she doubles over in pain. The doctor and nurse quickly realize that she is in labor. That night, a nurse brings a swaddled baby boy to Peggy and encourages her to feed him. She just turns her head away.

    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, kissing their heads. When he really does arrive home he arrives to find the house empty. He sits on the steps and holds his head in his hands.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed