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Monday, June 4, 2012

Mad Men Recap - Don Draper's Worst Day, For Real This Time

Posted by Jacob Schraer on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Just kidding last week, this week was Don's worst day ever. But no spoilers above the break. Let's have a totally spoiler free poll at least.

I happened to revisit part of Season 3 last week. It's odd seeing Lane before we really knew him. When it first aired he hardly registered for me outside of some light comedic relief and then his role in the creation of the new firm. Like the showier, more powerful people surrounding him, I constantly forgot what exactly it was he did.

It was in Season 4 that Lane began to catch our attention with his desperate clutches at living recklessly and his feeble attempts to stand up to his father and business partners. This season he settled into a more defined role, even as he was challenged on all sides. Audiences began to respect him for standing up to Pete, but then he lost us again when he turned to crime rather than embarrass himself, and finally to suicide rather than disappoint his family yet again.

Matt Weiner finally came through on everyone's expectations and offed someone in a foul and ugly way. It happened right at the end of the episode so we'll have to wait until next week to feel the repercussions (which I think will be very bad) but the menacing creep of this season finally all crashed down on the shoulders of the show's weakest character.

It was not the first time we've seen Don be private to the point of destruction, not the first time his rejection has led someone to suicide. Lane's hanging clearly evoked Adam's from Season 1. Only this time Don arguably did the right thing, in his perverse way. His scene with Lane was painful, and I even thought for a moment that Don would have mercy. Instead Don gave Lane the chance he thinks that everyone wants, to start fresh, only Don doesn't understand that not everyone is as strong as him. Who can judge Don? He reaction was expected.

Then again, maybe it's not strength that Don trades in but coldness, the opposite of sentimentality. For Don, losing everything only frees him to chase some shiny new prize. He takes for granted that his peers are in on the secret, that the shiny car is too crappy to even kill yourself with, that your new agency won't make you rich overnight, that your confidants will forgive even your worst tresspasses. It's not how the world works and it's not how Don works. He ends the season more hardened than ever, sneering at the world that buys his bullshit.

But hey who thinks Lane totally did some stuff to screw SCDP real good? Maybe sent out some salacious details or stories to some choice recipients? His "standard, boilerplate" resignation letter was giant FUCK YOU to Don Draper. Lane died a bitter, disenfranchised man. I'm sure he was smart enough, in his useful yet powerless way, to engineer some grand embarrassment for the firm.

Now that we can all stop killing ourselves with anticipation over the "who's gonna die" question (thank you), we can see what the show might look like in the future. Sally became a woman today, in Betty's words. What happened though was she struck out on her own to what she thought was a better, more adult life, took a chance, and then found herself in over her head, panicked, and raced back home.

It was a nice summation of the whole season, maybe even the last two. Tired of her life, and with outright disdain for what she has, Sally tries to sever ties with Betty, only to feel just how much she needs her mother when something happens that she doesn't completely understand. The scene with her and Glen was great in the museum. Their dialogue always sounds just like children to me, only more hilarious. I even felt good for Betty, who has so terrorized her daughter that she has no idea what to do when all Sally needs is a hug.

Let's not forget about Don, our hero. With Lane's embezzlement come to light, Don finally realizes just how far he's let his business slip out of his control. Between catty remarks to Joan and disgust with Lane, Don decides to go after some big deal business, and Ken's father-in-law proves his one big lead. Some smart maneuvering and a frothing at the mouth pitch get his juices going again. Roger's too.

As usual I predict bad things will happen.

OTHER STUFF

-The suicide attempt with the Jaguar cracked me up, possibly because I'm a bad person. Do you think they're sponsoring the show?

-Joan's replacement is named Scarlet, which is funny?

-It took another blog to point out to me that Glen's trip to the city is blatantly ripped off from The Catcher in the Rye.

-I found this blog with theory heavy interpretations of Mad Men very good.

-I loved the ending scene with Don and Glen in the car.

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