Others have probably observed that Don Draper’s “born again” moment – the moment when he took on the identity of a deceased officer in a Korean War battle – is an identical repetition of what shirtless Bill Holden has done in the POW camp in The Bridge on the River Kwai. But though poor Bill comes to an unhappy end in that remarkable movie, it is not what I foresee for Don when Mad Men reaches April 1970, Nixon moves against Cambodia, and four Kent State students die at the hands of the National Guard. Unlike the literalists who believe that the falling-man motif in the opening credits must control what happens at the very end, I feel that the aptest concluding sequence would have Don alone at the bar of a cocktail lounge, approached by a woman (or that woman’s friend) – with the implication that nothing is terminal. . . that Don will continue to be Don, a true Don though not in the Corleone sense. . . and that “some things that happen for the first time / [will] seem to be happening again. . .”
Don’t go all moral on us, Matt Weiner. We did not identify ourselves with Don Draper because we disapprove of him (though we may well disapprove of a lot of the things he does).
It surprises me that Megan is so bitter. And that her mother would clean out Don of his furniture. And that Don, headstrong though he is, would go all-in on Diana, the waitress from Racine, Wisconsin.
It doesn't surprise me that, thanks to Marie Calvait, Don's apartment is devoid of furniture, and he stands in it, disconcerted, surrounded by emptiness.
It doesn’t surprise me that media maven Harry Crane should so sleazily and brazenly hit on Megan when lunching with her ostensibly to discuss her agent and her career . . .although I am surprised that Harry, whose fashion taste has always been erratic at best, is wearing a nice suit and tie when entering Don’s office. Don’s navy suit and tie are, to be sure, three times nicer.
It doesn’t surprise me, but it disappoints me, that Harry covers his ass so shamelessly in Don’s office, telling him that Megan is “unstable” and will say “crazy things.”
It surprises me that Don writes out a million dollar check to give to Megan while their divorce attorneys behave like attorneys and prolong the negotiations. “Nothing about you is real,” she tells Don and gives him back the engagement ring that came from Don Draper’s real wife and widow. “You’re nothing but a liar – an aging, sloppy, selfish liar,” Megan says. Well, OK, but she deserves better lines. . . and the point about Don has been made and need not be emphasized at such moments.
It surprised me that art director Stan’s girlfriend Elaine is so loving and so adventurous, willing to pose in the nude for his photographic portfolio.He turns out to be a nice guy -- after such an unpromising start. . . .
It surprised me that Megan has a sister. Can’t see the advantage of introducing her now, but who knows?
It doesn’t surprise me that Megan’s mother would call on Roger Sterling to do a service for her. . .a service combining money (Marie needs him to pay $180 to Megan’s movers) and desire (“please take advantage of me,” she says breathily),
It surprised me to encounter hustler Pima, the photographer with the great reputation, who will do anything with either Peggy or Stan or both to get a lucrative assignment . . I don’t see a future for her, but I’m not plotting the show.
If I were, well, I am missing Sally, hoping for a reprise of Dr. Faye Miller, maybe a flashback of art director Sal or crazy Krishna Paul, and a return to the office of Michael Ginsberg.
If they asked me I’d want a major advertising crisis – the need to satisfy a well-heeled but hopelessly resistant client, an ingenious solution to a thorny problem.
If it were up to me. . . but it isn’t. Who, by the way, is singing “C’est Si Bon” over the closing credits? Henri Betti?
What did you make of the episode?
Speaking of being born again: Betty scared the bejesus out of me in that opening scene where Don was babysitting at Henry and Betty's house, making chocolate milkshakes for his and Betty's little boys. How did she terrify me? By declaring that she was going back to school for a master's degree in psychology, aiming to re-invent herself as some kind of counselor or therapist. Can you imagine having a shrink who looks like Grace Kelly, only aggressively sexier, and who has the poor impulse control and unchecked, rabid narcissism of a sulky four year old?
David, I heartily second your plea to the admired Matt Weiner: "DON"T GO ALL MORAL ON US" Don't "punish" Don for being Don in concluding Mad Men. That would be an expected, tidy exit strategy unworthy of that character, the series or your audience.
This episode's color scheme seemed to be warm earth tones, hovering around the red, orange, red-brown and rust part of the spectrum. Remember Pete's hilarious tomato red golf sweater, Don's dark red shirt in the initial milkshake scene, and Betty's peach print gown in that same scene? Stan and Harry are clad mostly in brown this episode, Peggy 2/3rds of the time in orange, and rust red (and once in green to disrupt my scheme); Meredith in buttercup yellow, and then an orange jumper. Pima carries a bright red umbrella in the scene where she tries to seduce Peggy. Megan wears a very fetching rust colored dress in the fancy hotel room she and her sister and mother occupy in Manhattan, in contrast to her sister's dowdier (by comparison) brown frock. Don's bedroom is deep red. Stan and Pima presumably have sex in the weird red light of the darkroom. Sultry waitress Diana's now has a brown-red uniform (matching the color scheme of the more upscale steakhouse she seems to have graduated to from the coffee shop.) The walls of her crummy hotel room are red orange, complete with red bedspread, in the scene where the episode grimly ends.
Speaking of Diana, this hot bit of speculation just in from tenured professor of Mad Men studies Denise Duhamel:
A friend obsessed with the show said that there is a theory that Diana, the waitress, could be Don's DAUGHTER!
Remember when he was raped in the whorehouse?
I really doubt that would be the case, but why would Mad Men bring her Diana in and drop her, when all I want is more Peggy, Joan, Betty, and especially SALLY?
Indeed, the question on everyone's lips is "Whither Sally???" And thanks, learned colleague Denise Duhamel (who shares initials with Don Draper! Could this be one of the factors that initially drew professor Duhamel to this important field of research, in which she has so distinguished herself in recent years? If waitress Diana is indeed Don's Daughter, then one version of her maiden name would be Diana Draper, another set of nicely alliterative initials to monogram her leather luggage with, should she ever have enough dough to buy any.)
Favorite line of the episode: probably the one delivered by Harry Crane in the squirm- worthy scene you referred to, David, where Harry tries, with the suaveness of Sasquatch, to put the old casting couch make on Megan. Never has poor Harry acted like more of a cad (perhaps he was still smarting from being referred to as "Mr. Potato Head" by an unkind client in last week's installment.) Reeling from how gorgeous Megan looks when she joins him for lunch at a snazzy hotel restaurant, he gapes and gasps: "You're like Ali McGraw and Brigit Bardot had a baby!" (Perfect description of actress Jessica Pare in this part.)
Things I loved about this episode:
1. Roger's code for the clients who are "blotto after lunch:" N.A.C. NO AFTERNOON CALLS.
2. When Don is nuzzling Diana, he murmurs, "You smell incredible. What is that?" and she replies dryly, though also a bit dreamily, as Don's nose is gently snuffling her hair, "shampoo." (She continues after that, talking about how it's Avon shampoo, remarking "I bought it in my living room," perhaps setting us up for door to door sales of cosmetics as a business model Don's agency may take an interest in?)
3. In Pima's photo shoot for a Vermouth commercial, all the models seem to be dressed like sexy witches.
4. Stan's ultra-cool, pot-smoking, cute wife Elaine, whose nurse uniform and hat seem to rhyme with Diana's waitress uniform and very similar starched white cap.
This episode is not unique in featuring lying as theme. One might even say that to the cynical among us, lying is a foundational concern of the show, as all advertising could be viewed as a form of lying. Diana fibs to Don about being childless, then later confesses "I lied to you." Don responds wonderfully, with a tender, quizzical "Already?" When Peggy tells Stan that Pima made a pass at her, too, and that she's a hustler, he growls "I don't believe you." Peggy looks him in the eye and says, "Which part?" When Roger asks Megan's mother if Don really agreed to Megan taking every stick of furniture from their formerly shared apartment and ship it to California, she says he did. Stan's wife asks how Pima liked his cheesecake photos of her, and he responds, "She loved them." As you noted, when finalizing their divorce, Megan calls Don an aging, sloppy, selfish liar, when actually, he's probably the least dissembling main character featured in this episode.
Till next week