MAD MEN: Scene of the Week

What a night for the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce crew! Roger prostituting himself for the amusement of the dastardly Lee Garner Jr. and the return of Freddy Rumsen reminded viewers how far these characters can fall but also how many a time they’ll pick themselves up and emerge triumphant (that being said, don’t be surprised if Freddy falls off the wagon by season’s end). Newcomer Faye Miller summed up nearly every characters’ predicament; their desires have been at war with others’ expectations from the very start. And while Glen’s act of love/vandalism impressed Sally, (I too was touched in an odd way), I worry where this is going. With Glen as the devil on her shoulder, Sally could send Henry Francis running for the hills sooner than you might expect.

But the standout moment of the episode, the horrifying, tragic climax, was Don giving Allison her “Christmas bonus.” The fact that they did the deed wasn’t the point. And had Don acknowledged the encounter, the card and the cash would have stung less. But this is Don Draper, the king of “it will shock you how much it never happened.” This is how he’s lived his life; this is how he’s survived. But because he’s unwilling or unable to face his past (who was the only one who didn’t take last night’s personality test?), he can’t love himself or anyone else. That probably sounds clichéd, but Don grows more isolated by the episode, no friends, no lovers, no family. His marriage to Betty was dysfunctional to say the least, but as a result, Don compartmentalized family, sex, and work, and played to others’ expectations and his desires accordingly. Now the boundaries are unclear, and while I doubt the Don of a few years ago would have wanted anything more than sex from Allison, he would never have made her feel like a common whore. To quote Joey, “he’s pathetic.”

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