How perfect the symmetry! Just as the Mad Men crew took the Emmy stage, we switched to their fictional counterparts triumphing at the Clio Awards (the new agency is milking that Glo-Coat ad for all it’s worth). It was a fantastic episode all around. Roger’s flashbacks were a bit jarring at first (it took me a few minutes to get that we were in the past and that Don and Roger weren’t engaging in some kind of bizarre roleplay in preparation for meeting a new client). Still in the past, Joan and Roger’s tryst was a reminder of just how sexy a couple they were (and hopefully will be again…). Peggy letting it all hang out during her working weekend with jerk-of-the-night Stan was hilarious and satisfying, but who else thinks that the brief appearance of Duck is a sign of bad things to come for Miss Olson (I for one want to see the fallout when their affair comes to light)? But it was Don in the Life cereal meeting that took last night’s cake.
Awash in his Clio win (and a large amount of booze), Don ripped off his own Kodak pitch. He vomited what had once required careful planning and execution. Where was the man who briefly reemerged last week? The Clio convinced Don that he’s as good as he ever was, but the audience knew that a big part of the Glo-Coat win was Peggy’s contribution. This is Don believing his own press along with the dangerous idea that he can stop climbing now that he’s reached the top of the mountain. The next logical step? Stealing some dumb kid’s uninspired tagline (and it only works because the Life execs are as blitzed as he is). So in the span of one evening, Don Draper went from winner to hack to plagiarist. Yet my heart broke for Don in that scene. He’s in free fall with only an anonymous brunette and a hotel maid named Doris to catch him. Sometimes an award, any recognition, is the boost we need to keep going. Sometimes it’s the final nail in the coffin (wonder how Jon Hamm feels about losing last night?).