Shut the Door. Have a Seat.
"Shut the Door. Have a Seat." is the thirteenth episode and season finale of the third season of the American television drama series Mad Men, and the 39th overall episode of the series. The episode was written by series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy, and directed by Weiner. It originally aired on the AMC channel in the United States on November 8, 2009. The title refers to a line that is spoken once in the episode verbatim, but more generally to similar phrases that are spoken to various characters throughout, "and they sit and hear some life-changing bit of news".
|"Shut the Door. Have a Seat."|
|Mad Men episode|
The newly formed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising agency at The Pierre
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Matthew Weiner|
|Written by||Matthew Weiner|
|Original air date||November 8, 2009|
|Running time||48 minutes|
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is informed by Conrad Hilton (Chelcie Ross) that McCann Erickson is buying Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe, and thereby also Sterling Cooper. This means Hilton has to sever his relationship with Don, who feels betrayed, but Hilton tells him to take control of his own fate. Don approaches Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) and suggests they buy the company themselves. The two bring in Roger Sterling (John Slattery), whose American Tobacco account they depend on, and Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) who, it turns out, has been misled by his British employers. When Lane points out that the buying price will be too high, Don suggests that Lane instead fire everybody and that the four of them start their own firm, bringing along their accounts. The partners take advantage of the time difference between New York and London to put their plan into action, with Lane sending a notifying cable to PPL late on Friday, which gives them until Monday morning to get what they need to start a new firm. Don first informs Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) about the plan, but she angrily refuses to come along because she feels taken for granted. Only after heartfelt assurances from Don about her value to the firm and to him does she agree to join the new firm. The partners of what will become Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce also approach Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), whom they need for the value of his accounts, Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) for media, and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) for agency operations. The partners raid the Sterling Cooper offices late at night over the weekend, taking everything pertaining to the accounts they need for their new firm as well as their office furniture and personal belongings.
Throughout the episode, Don has flashbacks to his childhood. His father Archie Whitman (Joseph Culp) breaks with the agricultural cooperative as the price of wheat drops, and chooses to go it alone. One night, after drinking heavily, he decides to sell the wheat himself. Bringing his son with him, he goes to the stable to prepare the horse, but the horse is frightened by a bolt of lightning. As the young Dick Whitman (Don) watches, his father is kicked in the face by the horse, and dies.
Meanwhile, Don is facing domestic problems, as his wife Betty (January Jones) announces she will file for divorce. Don is at first dismissive, blaming it on Betty's mental problems, but she insists the blame is his. She later sees a divorce attorney with Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley). The attorney suggests Betty and Henry travel to Reno, Nevada, for the divorce, but insists that Don's consent is an absolute necessity. Don finds out about Betty's relationship with Henry from Roger, and in an angry confrontation refuses to give his consent, and threatens to take the children. Betty, in response, implicitly threatens to reveal Don's secret identity. The next day the two inform their shocked and distressed children that Don will be leaving the house.
The new firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, meets for the first time in their new headquarters in a hotel room at The Pierre. Don places a call to Betty and agrees not to make difficulties for her. In turn, she assures him he will still be part of the children's lives and they end the conversation calmly. That night, Betty and Henry Francis leave for Reno, taking her youngest son Gene with them, but leaving Sally and Bobby behind in the care of their housekeeper Carla, and Don arrives alone at his new apartment in downtown Manhattan.
Series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner wrote "Shut the Door. Have a Seat." together with Erin Levy, and also directed the episode. In an interview he did with The Daily Beast, released the same day the episode aired, Weiner revealed some of his thoughts behind it, and his vision for the season as a whole. Weiner revealed that the problems associated with the firm's new ownership, and Don eventually finding a way to liberate himself, were ideas he had from the beginning of the season. He wanted to highlight "the corporate nonsense that is unrelated to work", adding that "[Getting rid of Sterling Cooper] was very scary but I knew in my heart it was what I had to do." As for the relationship between Don and Betty, he was very clear that the break was final. "It's so unambiguous to me that this marriage is over," he said, "but the audience seems to cling to the idea that they should be together because we want to believe in those things."
In connection with the release of the episode, AMC did interviews with two of the actors portraying more peripheral characters on the show: Chelcie Ross, who played Conrad Hilton, and Joseph Culp, who interpreted the role of Dick/Don's father, Archie Whitman. Ross revealed that he had not known that his character was a historical character when first auditioning for the part; it was only after he had been cast that he was told he was to play Conrad Hilton. For preparation, he said he "did a little Internet research and Matt provided me with the Time magazine article". Culp, in his interview, talked about the makeup he wore for the death scene. Even though the shot of his head after the accident was brief, the makeup was very realistic, and made a great impression on those present at the set.
The episode had a viewership of 2.323 million. This was the highest number of viewers for any episode of the show that season, since the premiere. While the numbers were good for the show, TV by the Numbers' Robert Seidman pointed out that the viewers were generally older than the 18–49 demographic coveted by advertisers. Only 1.118 million, or slightly less than half the viewers, belonged to this demographic.
Critical reception of "Shut the Door. Have a Seat." was highly favorable, with several reviewers giving the episode top score on their rating system and calling it one of the best in the series. Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club gave the episode an "A", calling it "quite thrilling". Phipps was pleasantly surprised by the "dawn of a new era" that seemed to be implied, as opposed to the "bleak ending" he had expected. San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman also appreciated the "giddy abandon" of the episode, and called it "arguably the best melding of plot-movement and existential crisis exploration of the entire season." TV critic Alan Sepinwall called the episode "a concentrated shot of pure storytelling joy". Sepinwall commended actors Jared Harris, whose Lane character he was glad to see remaining on the show, and John Slattery, for his comedic timing. In a review for IGN, Eric Goldman called the episode "simply excellent". Goldman, like Phipps, was pleasantly surprised by how his dark forebodings at the start of the episode were false, and that things came together for the best.
Reviewers commented on the plot's similarity to the archetypical heist film, several mentioning specifically Ocean's Eleven. Sepinwall enjoyed particularly what he referred to as his "favorite part of any caper (or other kind of ensemble adventure) movie: the gathering of the team." Slate's Patrick Radden Keefe also mentioned Seven Samurai, adding that, though the concept is not a new one, "I tend to enjoy these types of sequences...[a]nd in this instance, the fact that the team members were being poached from inside Sterling Coop made it all the more fun."
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