By Tristan Lejeune
Who can resist Don Draper?
Last week, gentle readers, I promised you an in-depth look at the character of Pete Campbell, but, considering that Vincent Kartheiser was in not one shot of this Mad Men episode, that might be better saved for another seven days.
This Sunday instead we were concerned with two very simple situations: DD, with the Missus and at the office, chasing them while they’re unclear about how they feel regarding him. So who can resist Don Draper?
Am I the only person in the world who thinks that Jon Hamm, while quite good looking, is not as four-alarm gorgeous as this show has always treated him? He’s tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, smart, did I mention handsome? But with the amount of “matinee idol” jokes they throw the character’s way, he should be Montgomery fucking Clift, and Hamm is easy on the eyes, not a joyous delight for them.
I was thinking about this when Draper flew out to L.A. to surprise Megan, and they had what could be their last roll in the hay. Hollywood has internationally famously high standards of beauty, and you certainly get the sense that the young Mrs. Draper might have had her attention drawn elsewhere. Certainly not to her agent, though, who calls Don concerned that “their girl” is letting her desperate show in public. Megan wants to fire the guy, but Don encourages a level head, which, somehow, is exactly where things go wrong.
It’s Don, not Megan, who’s really been lying about work, of course, and when she confronts him with details it certainly does seem likely, based on past evidence, that Don is having an affair. As far as we know that is not currently the case, but Mad Men is enough of a fan dance that DD could have a piece on the side we don’t even know about. Or he could just be watching movies like Model Shop all day.
Megan finds out about Don being on leave, takes it personally with good reason (though also with plenty of her typical overstatement and hysteria), and throws him out. “This is the way it ends,” she says before the music swells. The key question, put on hold by a later transcontinental phone conversation, is if Megan is using Don’s deception because she really wanted out all along, or if that actually was just the last straw? Your thoughts? Will these two get back together, and do we even want them to?
In the way these things flow from each other, Don’s marital failure spurs him to bite the bullet with one of SC&P’s competitors and after dinner he waves their no doubt juicy offer in Roger’s face. Roger bites, but in typical Roger fashion he tells no one about Don returning to the office and shows up after a wet lunch to an advertising agency all in a tizzy over the nearly fired man hanging out in the break room.
It is interesting how the younger echelons of SC&P light up upon DD’s return — the Michaels and Dawns of the office are all excited — but Cutler and Cooper want him out right away. Peggy is bitter and rude, Lou is furious, Joan is torn, at best.
Roger (speaking for Pete as well, as he says) points out some unassailable facts: buying Don out of his partnership would be very expensive, not to mention bad PR; if not at SC&P, the man will be working somewhere — would you rather compete with him?; and their current creative is lackluster (“adequate,” to use Cutler’s word). Almost through sheer force of will, Roger gets Don back on the team, but with a deal only a beggar could take: no alone time with clients, no backstage drinking on the job, and you are not in charge.
But Don, like us, wants this partnership to continue. So he takes it.
Elsewhere, Harry risks his job and makes a case for more attention to be payed to media marketing, and he wants something called a COM-PU-TOR! to help keep the agency in the 21st century. Elsewhere elsewhere, Betty Francis is still as petty and passive aggressive as she could ever be: she’d rather be an aggrieved party than almost anything else, even with her sweet, young son.
But the big news here, even compared to a possible divorce on the horizon, is Don’s humiliating semi-return to the fold. If he can turn Peggy into an ally again (not the tallest order in the world considering her relationship with Lou), everyone else might fall into place. I’ll be excited to see it; who could resist?