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Friday, September 17, 2010

Mad Men Episode 408: "The Summer Man."

"They say as soon as you decide to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem."

Don Draper sits alone by the window in his sullen apartment, clothes worn and soiled, with a pen in hand and a cigarette burning out.  Don is writing down his thoughts, a practice he compares to a child writing about their day.  But instead of documenting the trivialities of his day, he cuts to the core, asking and answering tough questions. It starts as a retospective and evolves. 

Outside the New York Athletic Club, Draper is feeling back on top.  "Summer's coming." 

Back at the office, Mrs. Blankenship is recovering from a optical surgery  and sporting some new darker glasses.  The boys in creative are up to their usual debauchery, this time trying to recover change (and a watch) from a vending machine.  Peggy watches on entertained, "I feel like Margaret Meade," she quips.  Joan charges out onto the scene, and the rats abandon ship.  Joey, however, is disrepectful to Joan's requests, and snaps back at her.  He degrades her again and again, "What do you do around here besides walking around like you're trying to get raped?"  And when Peggy tries to cut through Joan's office, Joan loses it on Peggy, then goes home.

Joan Holloway

At home, Joan's husband is packing for basic training, and Joan is visibly distraught at the sight of the bag, and when he tries to calm her down and reassure her everything will be fine, "you can talk to your friends at work."  That broke the camel's back, and Joan crumbles.  The scene finishes with him reassuring her, "... just pretend we're in some midtown hotel, and we both snuck away for the afternoon."  Joan finally smiles. 

(This can only be an indicator of things to come.  In the early days of Sterling Cooper, Joan and Roger used to sneak away from the office for afternoon delights.  We have recently seen that Roger fondly recalls those times, and while her husband is away, I could see something brewing between these two.  Check back in later!) 

It is Gene's birthday on Sunday, but Don is not invited.  He writes about how Gene was conceived, the problems he was born into.  Then Don creates his own "bucket list," including climbing Kilimanjaro (or anywhere in Africa), but more importantly, gain control over his feelings.

In the meeting, Don begins to take notice of the excessive drinking that encompasses his life.  When Joan is called in to assist in a problem - particularly Joey being assigned to a new product - Joan fibs to Don that there has been complaints about him, when it is more than obvious she just wants him fired.

Meanwhile, Harry Crane is trying to convince Joey that he should go into television.  And when Peggy pulls him from the meeting, Joey's true colors (apparently linked to some serious mommy issues) are exposed to Peggy.

Betty Draper
Betty and Henry Francis are out to dinner in the city for a political dinner, when they see Don across the restaurant on a date with the cute blonde.  "Every date feels like a first date with you," she says pleadingly for Don to connect with her.  She pours on him, he backpeddles.  When Henry addresses the table, Don acknowledges Henry but not Betty, and introduces them to his date, Bethany Van Nuys. 

The Lindsey campaign is approaching Henry Francis to spearhead the campaign.  After a short stint of heavy smoking, Betty abruptly abandons the table and heads to the bathroom, to be alone, and upset, in the bathroom.  On the ride home, Henry chastizes Betty for her behavior and it spills into a complete disaster.  They rushed into things.  The next morning, Betty grovels, but Henry is obviously frustrated with her.  On his way out, in an act obviously malicious (the carboard boxes had "Draper" written on them) Henry drives his car forward bending and puncturing them.  With a smile, he pulls away.  Later that day, he calls Draper and asks him to come pick up the boxes in the garage in order to make space for his new boat, and to come on Saturday because Sunday is Gene's birthday party.  Don angrily agrees.

Mountain Dew is the new account.  "You need three ingredients for a cocktail," Peggy enlightens us.  When Joan is meeting with Pryce about Joey and the vending machine, Joey is back to his rudimentary behavior and draws an inappropriate picture of the two.  When the picture makes its' way onto Joan's office, Peggy takes the picture to Don and he tells her to fire Joey.  "If you want some respect, go out there and earn it for yourself."  And after giving him the opportunity to apologize to Joan, and he doesn't, Peggy fires him.

It appears that Betty is very misguided in her perceptions of Don's new existence.  She thinks he is living lavishly, with young blondes and great spending, when in fact he can hardly keep his mind straight.

When Peggy tells Joan that she fired Joey in the elevator, she was expecting a "Thank You," but Joan took it as a personal attack, and that Peggy's reasons for firing Joey was not for Joan, but to demonstrate Peggy's need for respect and power.  Peggy's plan backfired.

"When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him."  - Don Draper

Don's boxes are stacked on the curb, and Henry, out mowing the lawn, ignores Don entirely.  Don drives to an alley, finds a dumpster, and puts the boxes in.  Leaving that life behind him, now physically, as well as emotionally.

Don's statements in his writings are broad and insightful, you believe we are seeing the emotional Don Draper, the one we all wish believe lays timid behind his false bravado, but alas, just as his award-winning work, we are lead into Don's trap again.  We fall for the anti-hero, and cheer for his rebirth.

In his office, Don asks Dr. Faye Miller if she wanted to get some dinner, and after a short debate, they agree to a date on Saturday night.  At dinner they chit-chat, and Faye reveals that her father is "connected," he runs a candy store, and she calls him "just a two-bit gangster like [Draper]."  And like the gentlemen Draper can be, he gives her his jacket when she's cold, directs the cab to her apartment, and even when she offered herself up to him, he politely declined.

Don does show up to Gene's birthday, and Betty, instead of angrily kicking him out, greets him and allows Don to hold his infant son.  "We have everything," Betty justifies to Henry.

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