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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Mad Men s2e11: The Jet Set

“Cheers to our guest.. to not being carried out in a box.”

Ah, post-bang poetry by Jane, partially inspired by being 20 years old, mostly inspired by drugs. Roger wants to marry her, he believes Jane is the key part of life he was always meant to have. Mona is gonna give him hell in the divorce proceedings.

Duck has been at Sterling Cooper for about 2 years now, and is expecting a partnership in return for his work with them. Roger does not agree, tells him to go out and make it rain if he wants to move up in the ranks.

So, Duck takes a meeting with Sinjin Powell, an old Putnam Powell and Lowe buddy from his days living in London. He falls off the wagon straight into a gibson, then takes their temperature on buying out Sterling Cooper. Duck knows Roger is in a compromising position as Mona is about to bankrupt him, so he’ll be able to force their hand. He wants to have Creative reporting to him, as President Duck. Fascinating..

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image courtesy of Not Great Pod

Like his luggage (no thanks to TWA), Don is lost. Squinting by the pool in the stark Los Angeles sunlight, Donald Draper grey suit uniform intact, he looks distinctly out of place. He chides Pete for treating it as vacation, and tells him to go out and make some connections pre-rocket fair, really make an impact. Once he’s changed into some new clothes, he sees a vision of Betty at the bar, breezing right past him.

Just then, Don encounters some absurdly attractive Eurotrash nomads. There’s Willy (with a very complex name), his wife Rocky, and a young lady named Joy. They seem magnetically drawn to Don, but when Pete shows up they can’t get away fast enough. A thing like that!

The rocket fair has begun, and it’s The End of The World presentation. Don and Pete watch slides about missiles being launched at the USSR, about how the USA could knock out the entire country if need be. “Total annihilation”. Don is wholly rattled by this idea, this intense escalation.

Back in the sunshine, Don runs into the exceedingly young (and aptly named) Joy at the valet pool. Suddenly, he decides to take her up on an impromptu trip to Palm Springs to some stunning, palatial flophouse she and her hot companions are crashing at; Pete is left poolside with some potential clients. He’s really up shit creek in LA, because the guy can’t drive.. thanks for that, Don. And there’s no taxi that will take you to Pasadena, Pete.

Once they arrive in (very hot) Palm Springs, Don falls over poolside. He’s collapsed from heat exhaustion, and comes to surrounded by Euros in expensive threads. “Who are these people?”

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Dinnertime. Don makes the mistake of verbally assuming they’re all well off, and is met with dead silence. He fits in with them aesthetically, but the actual lifestyle part of it? Not so sure. Are they con artists? Gypsies? Simply evading taxes? On the lam? Don impresses them when it comes to the city capital word game, at least. Then Joy locks onto his face like Alien in front of everyone and then drags him inside for a bang, claiming she’s 21 when he asks.

Who makes out at the fucking dinner table, anyway? Teenagers, that’s who. Gross. Damn kids.

Like most teenagers acting more Grown Up, Joy is pretty much intolerable, with her “I like sex” tryhard garbage pillowtalk. She talks about school in vague terms, and Don picks up that she’s younger than 21 but at least in high school. And then, it’s revealed that Willy is her father making everything infinitely weirder, during a morning-after still-in-bed conversation with him. “I make beautiful babies, don’t I?” He doesn’t want people thinking he’s old. How about N O P E.

Word gets out that Kurt and Peggy are going to see Bob Dylan together, much to everyone’s surprise and delight. Is it a date?? Adorable. While he gets a good natured ribbing, Kurt doesn’t see the humour and casually lets it drop that he’s a homosexual. Record scratch. Most are shocked, Sal raises an eyebrow then averts his eyes, there’s some bizarre homophobic comments, and Peggy isn’t ruffled. They keep their date. Sal is hurt by Kenny’s instant aversion to Kurt’s admission.

Kurt heads over to Peggy’s place. She lets him know that if he would rather take a man to the concert, she gets it; “I don’t know why I pick the wrong boys”. Sensing she needs some friendly advice, Kurt lets her know she’s a touch old-fashioned in the looks department, gesturing at her bangs and curled ponytail. Peggy is sort of resistant, but then she lets Kurt hack a a bunch of her ponytail off with a pair of kitchen scissors. And what do you know, it looks great! Much more modern. Fresher start for Pegs.

Joy invites Don to run off with her and her band of nomads, and though it’s realistically what he yearns for in life, he’s hesitant. Methinks he’s a man who wants to do it on his own terms. A gentleman shows up with a little boy and girl, and Don is suddenly brought back to a splash of reality, his own kids and marriage. The guy is going through some shit, referencing attorneys and how awful everything is. Holding a cracked glass in the pool, Don knows he’s gotta split.

Duck receives a box of Tanqueray, presumably from Sinjin over at PPL. Chewing on a lifesaver, he heads to Cooper’s office to share the news. Putnam Powell and Lowe want to open a New York office to service the American clients, and Sterling Cooper is just the place to do it. Bert is exceedingly pleased that the man he’d heard so much about has finally shown up; looks like Duck needs the sauce to be a more effective, ballsy businessman.

The next morning, Don rings someone from Palm Springs. He identifies himself as ~Dick Whitman~ to the caller. He notes down an address in the very back of Joy’s copy of The Sound and The Fury, tearing out the page after. Where is he headed?

Back home in Ossining, Don’s suitcase shows up at the front door. Nobody’s home.

“He likes having you around. You’re beautiful, and you don’t talk too much.”