Episode Reviews (3)
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The Ides of March for Don Draper...
For 2 and a half seasons we've seen how Don Draper was invincible. He could manipulate his way into any situation, use his charm, and deliver the goods. He proved time and again that he can not be tied down. He wanted to be his own boss, and that according to his was to not have a boss at all. Season 3 episode 7 just ripped open his bubble, when Don's secret life gets the better of him.
The Hilton account creates a furor at the office. For the employees lower in the food chain - the account meant loads of money for Sterling Cooper. For the upper management, this meant a deadlock situation. Connie Hilton offers business because he wants Don. But Don can't take the account as he has to sign a 3-year contract. And for top guys this is too good an account to let go. Don's war secret comes to haunt him again, when Bert Cooper blackmails his using that to get him to sign the contract. For Don, the whole episode was a journey of self realization for him. Right from the time Sally's teacher reads him correctly to the time he is taken for a ride by a teenage couple. Peggy deals with her share of failure. She reevaluates her relationship with Duck, after Don humiliates her. Somehow, the whole hot exchange of words seemed right for Peggy. It provides her an opportunity to realize she is not Don Draper. And the very reason she has an office of her own, is not because she's good, but they needed a copy righter who wears a skirt.
Peggy flirts with the possibility of cheating on Don. She finds her advances turned down by Henry Francis, and she is unable to use her sexuality to bring down a reservoir project. This episode has made god strides in representing the fallout of characters. It's about time we see a change in power structure.moreless
Walls are closing in Don in the office and at home. Betty gets flirty and Peggy seals a surprising relationship
Don is really getting his clocked cleaned the last two episodes. I got the feeling he is getting old now that he is approaching 40. What struck me about the episode was how quickly everyone called him out on any play he made. Sally's teacher quickly cut through what we thought was Don's almost 007 charms by laying out he wanted to sleep with her, which caused a hasty retreat by him. He really did look like a drinking cheating dad in the same shirt as all the others! Maybe he may not sleep with her after all. It reminds me of last season with Bobbie when she remarked about getting the "Don Draper" treatment. That really pissed him off. lol He doesn't seem to like women who see him so clearly.
Also significant was Hilton and Cooper both sitting in "his chair" while talking to Don. It was an alpha dog move that Don wouldn't allow in previous seasons, Hilton or no. Its almost like the chains of stability and conformity rob him of his strength.
Betty also nailed Roger's ill-advised call to her, by asking "you might not be here in three years?" he again revealed he did not want to be tied down, which Betty, to her credit, immediately picked up on. His father chiding him about his ways also played out that his BS is getting old. He was easily taken by the "couple" that robbed him. He lost his mo-jo as the scene in the hotel room recalled the first episode of season one with his artsy mistress and her friends with the drugs. This time, he was only an older guy to be taken advantage of by them, he was not his confident self as in season 1.
In the office, Sterling and Cooper both also echoed the episodes theme as they are getting tired of Don's Mr. Mystery routine. Hilton was the catalyst to Don volunterily chaining himself with a contract, which he resisted through the life of this series. Cooper especially called him out by playing what he knows about Don from season 1. Life and what it means is overtaking Don, finally making him commit in more ways than one.
Peggy worships Don, and his dressing down of her led to her being receptive to Duck. (of all people) She is attracted to confident men, and for all his faults, duck is confident. She originally slept with Pete because he also was confident with her. (which is why she hates him now, she found out his outer shell of confidence is hollow inside) Duck's willingness to hit on her so brazingly and explicitly turned on her attraction circiuts to a tee. This echoed Pete coming to her in the first episode, drunk in season one. She may be trying to replace Don with Duck as a mentor.
Betty, Don and Peggy are the focus this season, as Betty is again flirting in her repressed way. Just a touch from the guy makes her dizzy and she buys the couch he pointed out as a momento to her desire. She clearly wants an affair, but is so repressed by middle class housewife conformity it may not happen. He made it clear (in an implicit way) he only went up there to see her. Its hard to see how an affair could come to fruition, as she would need a set of circumstances to justify it to herself and to be alone where He could be bold without anyone seeing. Seems a tall order for the guy.
This episode seems to be building to the climax for the season and we wonder if Don can regain his mojo. Life is conflicting with his self image as his drop everything on a dime lone-wolf mentality both at home and in the office.moreless
After a mostly lackluster third season I found myself thoroughly entertained tonight with this episode. Nothing fancy, no overly exciting storylines, but the writing was smart, the acting was above average and things just clicked. This felt like Season 1 when the show was just fresh and innovative, not cliched, hackneyed and unoriginal.
If the show would just keep things simple, like having Don go through problems with upper management, like the ever-growing love/hate relationship between Pete and Peggy, and like Betty trying to venture out on her own than I would love this show again. But when Matthew Weiner tries to use Mad Men to launch his political views or to embarrass his cast, then I do not really care for the show.moreless