MAD MEN: Scene of the Week

Let’s just call it the abortion episode! In a literal sense, there’s Joan. After her tryst with Roger, she’s with child, and rather than keep the baby, try to pass it off as Greg’s, and wait the rest of her life for the other shoe to drop (sound familiar, Don?), she makes a doctor’s appointment. At one point the possibility of Greg’s death seems like a solution (at least to Roger), and while Joan nixes that idea, I think we’ve seen the last of Joan’s rapist husband. You have to wonder how much she’s going to regret this decision down the line. Then there’s Pete, who scraps a deal that’s been years in the making, ever since Season Two’s California excursion. Only the audience and Roger know how much this hurts the soon-to-be Lucky Strike-less agency. Why does Pete do it? Never forget Cooper’s advice to Don that Pete might prove loyal in the long run. In an odd way, this has come to pass. Still, Pete, like Joan, makes a sacrifice with far-reaching consequences.

Turning our attention to the other partners, there’s Lane. Poor, poor Lane. Ready to greet his son with Mickey Mouse and balloons, he is disheartened to see his father. At first, Pryce Sr. seems like a harmless stick in the mud, and while I believe Lane has legitimate feelings for Toni, “the chocolate bunny,” he’s also using her to prove how American he’s become to his veddy British pop. So it was a surprise when father struck son, and Lane aborts his relationship and, possibly, the freedom of his new life. It’s quite clear now why PP&L saw Lane as a man who always did as he was told. As for Roger, he not only loses a child but his biggest client. After years upon years, Lee Garner Jr. unceremoniously dumps the agency, and at the partners meeting Roger is a wreck because Lucky Strike cut the cord.

But it always comes back to Don, and the entire sequence with Faye, starting with the G-men (or were they?) in the hallway, was the evening’s highlight. Jon Hamm was phenomenal as Don ripped off his clothes in an effort to tear away the skin he’s worn for so many years. Because it’s suffocating him. Faye tries to touch him, but he pushes her away. In that instant he wants no part of Don Draper, and the possibility of Faye pulling a Betty is more than he can take. Of course Faye has the anti-Betty reaction to the truth, but Don doesn’t go into as much detail nor does Faye have as much invested in Don as Betty did. In the end, because of Pete’s actions, the issue seems laid to rest. Then again, might Don really be ready to rid himself of the lie he’s built his adult life upon? I’m not saying he’d turn himself in to the authorities (setting up the trust for his children aside), but think about it. Pete, Betty, Faye, and Cooper all know the truth. Peggy, noticeably absent last night, doesn’t know about Dick Whitman, but she knows the man she’s worked alongside all these years in a way few others do. Don has worked so hard to keep so much hidden, but things continue to leak out. And he’s still standing. Maybe Faye and Pete are on to something. The truth is not as bad as Don thinks, especially in a world so rapidly changing. The season opened with the question “Who is Don Draper?” All that’s left is for the man himself to provide the answer.

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2 thoughts on “MAD MEN: Scene of the Week

  1. “Who is Don Draper?” indeed. For the ultimate self-made man, he seems to be losing his grip on himself. Interesting point about the aborted “projects” in this episode. I guess I was paying more attention to all the folks seeking a fresh start.

    • I see your point about fresh starts, but it seemed like everyone, with the possible exception of Don, was giving up a lot merely to keep going (and no one, save for Lucky Strike, was all that happy about it). Thanks for the comment!

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