Mad Men s4e7: The Suitcase

“My uncle Mac said he had a suitcase that was always packed. He said, ‘A man has to be ready to go at any moment’..

“..Jesus, maybe it was a metaphor.”

Where do I even begin with The Suitcase? What can I say? It’s probably my favourite episode of the entire series, one of the best for sure. I’ve got a lotta feelings here.

In life, who truly knows us? Sure, you can be close with people, but you’re never inside their head. What happens when the last vestige of who you really are through a human connection fades away? The hell do you do next?

peggy_phone

image courtesy of Tumblr

Peggy and Don both terrified of the phone and what news is on the other end. Stephanie rings and leaves word from California, and Don knows it’s not good news. Picking up the phone, he hesitates.. and picks up a bottle instead. Here we go.

It’s Peggy’s birthday, and drunkass Duck is on the line, begging her to meet up and throw him a bone via manipulation.

iseeyouthrowingshade

I SEE YOU.

Megan and Peggy have a fun interaction in the ladies’ room; the forward thinking Megan compliments her for being 26, lets her know that she’s doing a-OK in life. Whereas Trudy emphasises that “26 is still very young”, reminding her that she’s unmarried and without some baby. Woof. As Trudy goes off with Pete to enjoy her evening, Peggy goes back to Don’s office to wrap up. Or maybe not.

Bland boyf Mark is surprising Peggy with dinner at a fancy Italian place.. and has invited her mother, sister/brother in law, and roomate along for the ride. Equal parts awkward and infuriating, Peggy finds out as she delays the dinner repeatedly to help out with Samsonite. When he reveals he’s there with all those people she can’t really stand, Peggy is enraged. 

Has this guy learned a good goddamned thing about her during their time together? Not bloody likely, but it’s also unclear what she’s offered; after all, she was doing a virgin impression for him at first. They break up over the phone.

I feel like I understand the aspect of Peggy that is a little tonedeaf to other people’s feelings, because I can certainly be like that in life. Pegs is whip-smart and can be very kind and empathetic, but she can also be oblivious, especially when it comes to other people’s subtle reactions. It’s clear that she wants marriage and a family in the abstract, as these things she Should Want(TM), but the actual realities of being in a long-term relationship are too much for her. She feels more drawn to her career and the office than she does to Mark, and let’s be real, Mark sorta blows anyway.

Peggy knows Don at least as well as Anna, and I think just a shade better. The details of how Dick became Don don’t matter as much as who Don is now due to all those deets. She’s seen him at his best and at his worst. I don’t think Anna ever really did, since California was Don’s New York palate cleanser. On the west coast, he was neither Dick nor Don, but sort of a hybrid; the person he might have been if not for the intense self-loathing and running. And I’d say it’s a lot harder to know and love Don in New York than that vaguely breezy California guy. But Peggy does.

And we’re right back to The Hobo Code, with Uncle Mac’s escapist advice ringing true to Don. But come on.. you can’t run forever, as much as you may try. Your problems will follow you everywhere if you don’t face that shit head on and fucking deal with it. It’ll hit you all at once.

Both Don and Peggy have painful memories that bubble up in mental reruns, things they’d rather forget, just like the rest of us. It’s revealed that Peggy witnessed her father’s violent death, just as Don did. Two people who know each other exceedingly well can articulate entire paragraphs by saying very few words. They sort of dance around what they’re trying to say, but the other person understands it intrinsically.

donpeggy_bar

image courtesy of MadMenWiki

Peggy lets him know that her mother thinks he’s the one who knocked her up in Season 1, since he was the only person who visited her in the hospital. People make fun of her at work, assuming she got the damn job by banging Don. Humiliating and sad, but Peggy persists. The evolution of Peggy and her creative career is absolutely fascinating. And it’s worth noting that Don is interesting because of his past, but Peggy is interesting because of her future.

Meanwhile, Drunk Duck pops to SCDP to take a shit in Roger Sterling’s office, mistaking it for Don’s like a truly gross maniac. In one of the best drunk sad sack man fights ever (spurred by Duck referring to Peggy as a whore), Don badly throws a punch and Duck then throws him to the ground, boasting about killing a bunch of people in Okinawa. Jesus Christ dude, simmer down.. why you gotta make it weird?

Apologising for Duck’s behaviour and about how long ago all that gross sex was, Don doesn’t judge. He gets it.

don_alone

image courtesy of Tumblr

Waiting to ring Stephanie and get confirmation of what he knows must’ve gone down is killing him. Anna is such a special person to him, and Peggy can see he’s clearly in pain. The thing is, Anna needed Don/Dick at that point in her life. Her husband was dead, and she was alone.. and then she tracks down Don and he’s just as alone and in need of a connection. It would take a far more cynical person than Anna to turn him in once she heard him out all those years ago.

I think what’s so great about Don and Anna’s friendship is that it’s a mutual relationship where each is able to get something from the other and give something in return. A sense of comfort, no judgement, ease. Being faced with the reality of these things disappearing in her death is haunting Don.

anna_thesuitcase

image courtesy of MadMenWiki

With Peggy asleep beside him on the couch, a vision of Anna appears to Don. She’s holding a suitcase and smiling, radiant, as she walks off. Don finally rings Stephanie around 5.30a, confirming the worst; Anna passed away in the night. Putting the phone down and making level eye contact with Peggy, he wholly falls apart, sobbing.

“What happened?”

“Somebody very important to me died.”

“Who?”

“The only person in the world who really knew me.”

“That’s not true.”

donpegs_thesuitcase

image courtesy of Fanpop

As the morning stretches on, SCDP is back to the usual bustle. As he shows her an idea for Samsonite, Don holds Peggy’s hand for a beat, subtly acknowledging their night. The gesture alone speaks volumes as they both take a moment.

“I know what I’m supposed to want, but it just never feels right.. or as important as anything in that office.”

Mad Men s4e3: The Good News

“I could tell the minute she saw who I really was, she never wanted to look at me again. Which is why I never told her.”

Woof, lots to chew on in this episode. Anna Draper is dying (unbeknownst to her), Don’s last living positive link to Dick Whitman. In his vulnerable state, Don lets Lane see a glimpse of who he really is, even though it’s Sad Sack Drunk Don.

californiadon_driving

YES, CALIFORNIA DON || image courtesy of Tumblr

Visiting with Anna is the only time we see Don truly relaxed. He actually enjoys human connection with her in a way we don’t really see otherwise. And hearing the awful news from her niece Stephanie (and then seeing him revert to Don Draper mode by taking charge with Anna’s sister), it’s just fucking devastating.

It’s enormously hard to see him struggling over whether to tell Anna the truth, given that he knows just how much a truth bomb can blow it all to hell. Maybe Don was afraid it would snuff out the most dear relationship he has  at this point, as his truth-telling ended his life with Betty.. or that maybe he believed that not knowing the truth would be a gift to her somehow, letting her enjoy her short time left in blissful ignorance. Anna is the only person in his life to love him unconditionally.

“Well, I saw something once, and I’m telling you.. it knocked me sideways. I started thinking of everything I was sure was true, and how flimsy it all might be.”

“You don’t need to see a UFO to know that.. that’s not a great way to think about things.”

byebyeanna

image courtesy of Tumblr

On the other side of the coin, I don’t know if Anna would have loved the ‘real’ New York Don Draper. She also didn’t have to deal with the consequences of Dick Whitman’s lies for a decade, the way Betty had to. Anna has never seen that side of him.

Looks like Don is still trying to convince himself that the reason Betty cast him aside was his destitute upbringing, which ain’t the real root of the issue. Instead, he chooses to block out the reality that his lies had an emotional impact upon Betty for such a long time that at the end of it, she was legit yelling about how she had tried so hard to understand him and couldn’t, due to the way he entirely shut himself off from her. Oof. Don can’t take responsibility because he’s looking at things all wrong.

At the office, things are thankfully a little more normal. Allison appears a touch woeful about her New Years plans (going out with big group of girls) in contrast to Joan asking Peggy’s plans, seeming envious of the potential freedom of going out with ladies and having a blast.

And hey, how much longer before Joan dumps that absolute dickbag of a husband? It’s such shit to see the incredibly capable Joan in a relationship with a self-involved manbaby who treats her like an infant. She wouldn’t put up with that at work– look how she put Lane in his place re:flower fuckup. Watching her weep as Greg stitches her up, knowing it’s all a disaster and this dude doesn’t know a damn thing about her.. rough.

Coming into the office on New Year’s Day, Don is surprised to see Lane; they were both supposed to be on vacation, after all. These guys bond in the best way possible; getting loaded and heading to the movies to see some explosions with Gamera. That scene is a real treat with Lane shouting at some uptight lady in pidgin Japanese, surrounded by handjobs galore.. aces.

Lane and Don’s friendship is born in rather dire sad sack circumstances. They’re pretty different guys. Don is this confident suave guy who’s (supposedly) got it all figured out, and Lane is trying to find his place in the world, trying to stand out and not just be complacent and do what’s expected of him all the damn time.

“You remind me of a chap I knew in school. We followed him around in a pack, and he didn’t notice we were there.. He died in a motorcycle crash.”

Lane admires Don and wants to be liked by him, or even to be more like him. And Don is so lonely at this point in his life that he wants to be liked by literally anyone in that same dark headspace to understand him.

donlane_drunksteaks

image courtesy of MadMenWiki

At drunk man steakhouse dinner, Lane opens up that his marriage is on the rocks; shit sounds dire, and that bouquet of roses cockup didn’t help. Having learned from the nuclear disaster of giving Roger advice, Don holds back — Lane feels he should make some grand sweeping gesture, seeking Don’s approval. Instead, he paraphrases something Faye said to him during the SCDP Christmas party that clearly resonated.

“Is that what you want? Or is that what people expect of you?”

Pausing and staring at Don levelly, this is a thought that has never occurred to Lane. And this ain’t the first time we’ve seen Don internalise advice or an observation and pass it off as his own; in Season 1’s Nixon vs. Kennedy, Don responds to Pete’s hilarious blackmail attempt with “You haven’t thought this through”.. which is exactly what Rachel Menken countered with when he suggested that they run off and start a new life together. Like all of us, certain shit sticks with him and rattles around in his brain.

Aaaand, enter the high class hookers.

I think a crucial point in Don’s success as a married hot guy and his failure as a divorced guy is pretty plain; a married man offers nothing but a dick-go-round because he’s attached, while a single (even divorced) man could be a potential future husband and — as Freddie Rumsen reminded us — it’s not always wise to bang it out with a man if you intend to marry him. Women treat the no-future man a lot differently than they treat the maybe-future man. So, it’s not wholly shocking that Don keeps striking out; his status implies a different set of possibilities than it used to. He’s got an asterisk. When Stephanie asks him if he’s married or divorced, he wonders why he can’t just say he’s single and be done with it.

But generally, Don is struggling. It’s borderline uncomfortable seeing him make moves on women that appear uninterested. While he may have been on top of his banging around game the past 3 seasons, his perf family helped establish that part of him. He seems uncomfortable with being divorced, almost as if he’d rather be married and fucking around than single and searching.

“But nobody knows what’s wrong with themselves.. and everyone else can see it right away.”

scdp_1965

Gentlemen, shall we begin 1965? || image courtesy of MadMenWikia

Mad Men s2e12: The Mountain King

“The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.”

One of my favourite episodes right here, my god. Roger and Bert wrestle for a bit over the PPL merger, but come to an agreement. Meanwhile, Don disembarks from a San Pedro bus, the Pacific Ocean greeting him. Where in the fresh hell is he going?

Betty catches Sally smoking a cigarette in the bathroom! The horror.

sallysmokes

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Natch, Betty is more concerned with Sally burning the house to the ground rather than the fact that she was, you know, smoking an actual cigarette, but whatevs. Locking her in the closet as a temporary punishment, Sally shrieks that Don left because of Betty, because she’s “stupid and mean”. She doesn’t understand why Betty won’t let him come home. Looks like the idea of separation without telling the kids isn’t so hot, Bets. Kids are smart little people, they catch on to things..

Aaaaand, flashback! Picking right up from The Gold Violin, Don is at his shit apartment with the blonde woman; he’s been found out. She’s his wife — the real Don Draper’s wife, that is. He quietly tells her that he died, and that he’s sorry. That they got mixed up at the hospital, “I just had to get out of there”. He introduces himself as Dick Whitman, and she is Anna Draper.

“Well Dick, what do I do with you?”

Back to the present day, a door opens and that same blonde woman is behind it. Looks like he’s visiting Anna in California! Some weird kid is in the midst of a piano lesson at her house, rapping away at ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. Don introduces himself as Dick, and right away, seems different than the guy we know from New York. Calmer, happier, a little more genuine.

don_anna_piano

image courtesy of Fanpop

Almost immediately you can tell that he and Anna share a deep bond. She’s loving and sincere to him; Don is shaken and sad, not his usual bulletproof exterior. Unlike his home in Ossining, here he is welcome to have a shower and a lie down. No judgement from Anna’s end of things.

Infuriated that Trudy booked a meeting with an adoption agency behind his back (while receiving praise from Hildy), Pete loses his whole entire goddamned mind when he gets home. They have a yelling argument about it, he screams out “HELL’S BELLS, TRUDY!” .. And then he launches a fucking whole roast chicken dinner out the window!

hellsbells

image courtesy of Giphy

Who on God’s Green Earth does that?? What a complete fucking lunatic. Iconic Pete Campbell outrage.

Collateral damage from the dinnerpocalypse, Pete’s father in law buzzes him at the office to let him know Clearasil is now under review. Pete ain’t happy about it and can see right through him, totally flies off the handle at Tom, tells him to pull Clearasil anyway. Probably for the best.

Adding to the “Greg is an Asshole Manbaby” report, he gets all butthurt that Joan tries to take control and give him a good bang. Ugh. It’s also implied that her sexual history is a problem for him, double ugh. More on that to come.

Post-shower and nap, Don and Anna chat on the porch. Anna is pretty much the only link to his past at this point, to who he really is. Don can be himself around her, let his guard down. He can say things he would never say to Betty. He can admit fault, he can talk about how he really feels without fear of tarnishing the image he’s so carefully curated.

don-porch

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Anna has always felt that they met so that both their lives could be better, which is a lovely way to look at things when it could have so easily gone south. At one point, Don is fixing a chair for her, unlike the one he failed to fix at Casa Draper.. which Betty ended up destroying. And it’s revealed that Don mailed that copy of Meditations in an Emergency to her as well.

“I have been watching my life, it’s right there.. and I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can’t.”

Don doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be or what he’s supposed to do, or how to mend things; so he wanders.

Flashback to the Christmas Eve right after Don and Betty met, Don is in California with Anna. Don speaks of Betty in the lavender haze, talking about how she’s so beautiful and happy. “I just like the way she laughs, and the way she looks at me.” He expresses gratitude to Anna, how if it weren’t for Don, his entire life in New York wouldn’t be possible.

Anna reminds him that meeting Betty and having a family is a chance at a whole new life, a really positive thing for him. She is over the moon that he’s found love, but she’s got to grant him a divorce first.. just a minor snag! Ha.

Peggy’s Catholicism-infused Popsicle pitch goes perfectly. Virgin Mary-esque artwork depicts a holy mother granting a snapped popsicle to her kids, two equal pieces, love, all that jazz. She knocks the pitch out of the park. Don who?

Betty rings Sara Beth to yammer about Sally, but really she’s ringing about her pot stirring. She brings up the stables, and their conversation turns to Arthur. Acting as a confidante, Betty prods her for more information, then turns it on SB playing the morality card when she pieces together that they had a bang. SB is devastated that Arthur is set to be married that weekend and is absolutely sick over it; Betty relishes in it a tiny bit.

“No one made you sleep with him!”

DAAAAAAAMN. Way harsh, Bets. Guess that friendship’s over!

The gargantuan Xerox machine has finally outstayed its welcome as Peggy’s officemate. Time for something better. At the end of the day, Peggy asks for Roger’s blessing to move into Freddy’s now vacant office, feeling deserving of it due to the Popsicle success. “You young women are very aggressive. There are 30 men out there who didn’t have the balls to ask me!” Amazing. Her wish is granted! Moving on up.

Joan’s fiancé Greg meets her in the office to head off for a dinner date. Vexed by Roger knowing that she doesn’t like French food, he strangely feels the need to assert himself as the alpha male in her life, and the one in control of their relationship. And in one of the most upsetting and shocking scenes on this show, he pins Joan down to the floor of Don’s office and has his way with her right there on the carpet very much against her wishes.

She tells him very clearly to stop, but he rests on the idea of “this is what you wanted, right?”, referring to the other night, showing her who’s really in charge. Gross. As she submits and stares off into the distance, it’s utterly chilling. Where is that perfect life she had envisioned for herself, marrying a doctor and living happily ever after? Greg is seriously so fucking vile, a truly subhuman trash heap. After she spruces up, they head off to dinner, roses forgotten on her desk.

Don yaps with some car guys, expressing an interest in building custom cars, working with them. There’s something about that all-American blue collar life that magnetically draws him, and he’s flirting with staying out in California. Maybe he can reboot his life out there. He introduced himself as Dick, trying it on for size. Again, his demeanour is different than the Don we’ve seen, he’s more at ease; a happier guy on the outside.

Kinsey is back, turns out Sheila dropped him a few days into their trip down south, shocking nobody. He and the junior execs are all pissed about Peggy’s new office, especially Harry. Tough titties, Harry.

As Peggy is moving into her new office, Joan lets her know the nameplate will be changed out ASAP, and chats about her wedding a bit. She seems envious as Peggy is moving up the ladder, and Peggy seems wistful that Joan is getting married.

In Ossining, Betty tries to have a more adult conversation with Sally about what’s going on at home. She speaks to her simply, that she and Don are “having.. a disagreement. And he went away.” Betty admits to Sally that she doesn’t know where Don went, which is pretty unsettling. Just then, Betty notices she’s lady bleeding.. not good.

Congratulating Peggy on her new digs, Pete confides in her that Don disappeared in Los Angeles. She expresses worry while Pete wants to talk shit, which is pretty typical. I feel like she reminds him to be less of a dick sometimes. Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

don_ocean

image courtesy of EW

And there goes Don, ruining a pair of khakis and a perfectly good leather belt in the Pacific Ocean.

“Let Roger Sterling have what he always wanted– to die in the arms of a 20-year old.”