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Don Draper: Same as he ever was?

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published April 08. 2013 11:00AM   Updated April 08. 2013 3:44PM

Dearest Kathleen,

As I write this, I'm tossing out all my New England grays and blues and introducing psychedelic-print mini-dresses to my wardrobe, thanks to Megan Draper's rockin' wardrobe on last night's "Mad Men." How cute is she? She's still kind of annoying, but not so annoying that she deserves a cheating SOB like Don! I think we both knew Don couldn't be faithful forever, and that last scene of season 5 seemed to indicate impending skirt-chasing for season 6. Sigh. Somehow, I'm disappointed. And with the neighbor's wife???

Before that little reveal unfolded, my husband turned to me mid-episode and asked, "Where is he, do you suppose?" I really couldn't come up with anything other than "a precipice?" Don seemed checked out, and not quite in the Hawaii-paradiso way he describes after his trip to "research" the Royal Hawaiian. Don's Hawaii reeks of despair, if his ad campaign is any indicator. What the heck?

PS. Stan was hilarious in his support of the "Your jumping off point" ad--which, if you ask me, the way to make that ad less depressing is simple: show someone's feet in the lovely blue water right near the pile of shoes and clothes. Voila! No one's committed suicide, s/he is just dipping their toes into the zen of Hawaii. I rule.

So, where do you think Don is?

Luv,

M.

***

Dear Marisa,

Not sure where Don is now. Lost, obviously. He didn't say anything, except read from Dante's "Inferno," for the first 20 minutes of the show. The old Don, soaking in his surroundings.

But then I wanted him to say something. Anything. And the first words were "Congratulations, let me buy you a beer." To a drunk guy at the bar? Whose wedding he ends up attending and whose bride he gives away? But what I loved was at the New Year's gathering, when the carousel of pictures comes up — Hawaii and the trip all look so great. It was Don's pitch for the gizmo a few seasons ago. You present the moments you want and those become your memories.

A little disappointed in this opener. Two hours and really, the last 15 minutes were the best. Yes, we know Betty is cuckoo; yes we know Megan is an aspiring actress; yes, Peggy is driven; and yes, Roger has issues. It took an hour and 45 minutes to get where we should have been in the first half hour: Don Draper flubbing a sales pitch about Hawaii; Roger breaking down over a shoeshine kit: Betty dying her hair black.

This episode started out slow for me. Did we really need the prolonged refresher course?

Psychedelically yours,

K

***

Ms. K,

So, when the episode opened, did you think it was Don keeled over on the floor? And what was up with Don needling the poor doorman about his near-death experience? Personal question, man.

Anyhoo, I agree that we had a lot of refresher in this episode, but I kinda needed it. I loved this new Nice Betty who appears to care a little bit more about others (or maybe she's trying to recapture her own youth?) Not enjoying Young Ms. Attitude Sally, though. Please God let her emerge 21 in the next episode.

I do think they ran on too long in Roger's therapy sessions, but the scene where he breaks down about the shoe-shine man, I thought, was very touching. He had little to no reaction about his mother's death, but a working-class hero like the shoe-shine man really gets to him. I liked it.

BTW, regarding the woman who insisted on speaking first at Roger's mother's memorial: is it me, or did she appear to have wandered off the set of "Downton Abbey"? She seemed awfully antique. But maybe that's the point. And if there's one way of saying out with the old, it's Don Draper throwing up all over the parlor floor.

As for Driven Peggy, all she's doing is pantomiming Don, which is fine, but that's not the same as finding one's voice. She's got to keep digging and working late to get to that Hawaii state of mind, I think. She's well on her way, and someone on Twitter made the interesting prediction that Peggy will become Don's main competition, and she'll eventually come out on top. As the twitterer said, "She's rising, he's falling."

And despite what a crumb he is, I'm still sad for Don.

Incense and peppermints,

M.

***

Dear M.

Yes, thought it was Don on the floor in the opening. But then I forgot all about that scene because they took so long to get back to it.

I really like the doctor. He's so much like Don, yet seems to have a moral compass. How true for him and Don when he said people will do anything to alleviate their anxiety — have a doctor tell you you're fine or believe the Madison Avenue BS. And I thought Don might have a true friend in the doc, but then, when you have an affair with your friend's wife it can never turn out well.

That woman in the wheelchair was from somewhere else. And why did she want to talk first? I thought she had some juicy family tidbit she was going to reveal: like Roger's mother wasn't his mother. I thought Roger was being exactly Roger. The curse of being charming. And Don puking into the umbrella stand or the potted plant — very unDon-like indeed.

And not for nothing, but had we ever met Roger's mother?

***

Yes! That's exactly what I thought, too, re: Insistent Old Lady. That was such a weird device.

We are agreed re: the doctor: He Who Skis Off to the Hospital When Duty Calls. They set it up to make it look like the doc and his wife were so solid (vs the other couple at the fondue party), but here we are. And that last conversation Don has with Mrs. Doctor? Do you suppose they were talking about the same thing? (She asks, "What do you want for this year?" and he says, "To not do this anymore" and she says "I know.") If they are talking about the same thing, that's very sad, indeed.

Now, can we talk about Pete Campbell's sideburns? Love them. Roger's not so much. Speaking of not so much, I'm not digging this pseudo-Peggy working in creative at SCDP. She seems awfully negative and her hairdo depresses me. She's way too familiar with Don, if you ask me. He's a mess; he's a jerk; but he is where he is for a reason, dammit.

Another note on bad hair: I almost didn't recognize Peggy's (still annoying) boyfriend Abe with his long locks. I loved it when he started waxing on about the war-awareness-raising potential of the headphones account ear-gaffe Peggy just kinda looked at him briefly confused/annoyed. Read: Not even a factor here, Abe.

Peace, love, and headphones,

M.

***

Right on! I like the social awareness that is happening around the main characters — yet they are oblivious or don't care. Love the clothes. Love the long hair and sideburns. And smoking pot at work has replaced drinking at work? Gotta love that. What year is it anyway?

And who knew Betty knew how to cook? I thought all she could do was open cans of soup. I think it would have been a lot scarier for her to go into that building. I thought it was out of character for her to hang out there. And who was that the violinist? Had we met her before?

And one final thing, someone I know who watches was annoyed with the scenes for next week. "Useless" was the text. Did you notice?

K.

***

KE,

I did! And so did most of Twitter. Saw a lot of texts to that effect. Now, previous "next on" montages have been fairly cryptic (and "Walking Dead's" aren't great either), but this one took the cake. Here's the blog equivalent: Mad Men. Next week. Piano music. Shot of moody Don Draper smoking. Pete says something pithy. Peggy looks stressed. Fade out.

I mean come ON!

This violinist is new, I believe, and I found her dynamic with Betty to be very strange. It's like Betty's trying to be her friend, too, perhaps because Betty's the emotional equivalent of a young teenage girl. Dunno, but I'm intrigued by this kinder, gentler Betty. Maybe the fat phase taught her some humility. Hate the hair though. Flat dark brown is just so not her color. I guess she didn't like being called "Blondie" by that gremlin at the flophouse. And this is how I know I'm on old person now: the flophouse denizens irritated the hell out of me. Oh, right, it's just so noble to live in filth, marinating in hantavirus. Naturally the world will take you seriously....Puulllease. If he were that smart, he's be squatting in some lovely bungalow in San Diego.

Or Hawaii.

-M.

***

I don't find Betty to be kinder and gentler. Did you hear her tell Mr. Betty how he could assault the violinist in the next room. She's very disturbed. Can't wait to see where her story goes.

Cue the piano music ...

-K.

***

Holy crap I almost forgot about that weird exchange! You're absolutely right, and I take back my admiration. I'm a Betty-hater from way, and it's where I like to be, anyway.

-M.

Readers, join the conversation in the comments section! Is Betty aiming for redemption? Is Don all washed up? Will Roger tune in, turn on, and drop out?

We're on Twitter: @edgecombday and @TheMDesk.

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