Each day this week, I’ll attempt to offer an in-depth look at Mad Men's core characters by highlighting the five moments that have defined, so far, their arcs, along with predictions of what might happen to them in the coming season. After all, between the Beatles coming to the United States, the Civil Rights Act, and the expansion of the Vietnam War, 1964 can only make for some majorly dramatic television.
Today we’ll discuss the man, the mystery, the best dressed man on television, Don Draper.
1. Like a Brother
Episode: Season 1’s 5G and The Wheel
Don did a fine job of burying his sordid past and becoming the seemingly successful man he always wanted to be. So when his younger brother Adam Whitman tried to get in touch with his long lost sibling, Don thought he could pay him off with a cool $5,000 to go away. And it worked though not in the way Don anticipated. When Don learned that his brother hung himself and donated the money, Don's nonchalance was quickly erased.
Episode: Season 1’s The Wheel
After Don backed out of plans with Betty’s family for Thanksgiving, and soon thereafter learned about the death of his brother, Don spent got caught up thinking about the meaning of his family. During his presentation with Kodak, using their new slide projector to shares images of his wedding night and the birth of his daughter, there is a moment when it sounds as if Don is trying to sell himself on the idea of the importance of his own family. When he comes home later that night, having decided to join them for Thanksgiving, he comes home to an empty house. For all his realizations, his new-found desire to bond with his family was too late.
Episode: Season 2’s The Mountain King
After Betty kicked Don out of the house for rightly suspecting that he was having an affair, Don left for California on business. Don quickly ditched his duties to go on an odd excursion with some nomads, and eventually visited with his ex-wife Anna, the wife of the man whose identity Don took over. Don tells Anna that he feels that he is "watching" his life. "I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can't." The final scene of this episode, when Don is walking into the ocean, can be viewed as Don’s renewal, a washing off of his past lies with the intention to live within his life.
4. Hobnobbing with Hilton
Episode: Season 3’s Wee Small Hours
At Roger Sterling’s cocktail party, Don met an older gentleman with whom he shared a similar past and drive. Don had no idea that he had been hobnobbing with Conrad Hilton, the CEO of Hilton hotels. Hilton was so impressed with Don that he called him up to have him start working on the company’s image. Thrilled to work on such a huge and demanding account, Don was honored to learn that Connie viewed him as a more than a son. Don’s reasons to please Connie became two-fold, the first was to nail the campaign for the good of his career, but also because he started to see Connie as the father he never had.
5. The Truth Comes Out
Episode: Season 3’s The Gypsy and the Hobo
The world pretty much stopped when Betty discovered and confronted Don about his secret past. So much of his life which had been held together by a string of lies just unraveled, as he had to tell Betty about his dead family and his switching of identities during the Korean War. It was in this episode that Don finally revealed his actual vulnerability as a human being.
So where does that leave us?
Now that Betty has left him, Don is facing the scary world of single life. And he’s just become partner and co-founder of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
So, I predict that Don will have some trouble with the ladies now that the intrigue of have a secret affair has lost its luster. Chances are he’ll head up a campaign mimicking a song from the new movie The Sound of Music and he'll get hard to work on the NASA account right at the peak of the space race.