Spoilers, of course. If you haven’t already, make sure to read our full episode recap, The Don of Time.
One key to watching Mad Men is to remember that this is not the sort of writing that really invites us to invest ourselves into the characters and identify with them. They keep us purposely at bay, describing the surfaces but leaving us to guess at what’s going on underneath. Nobody walks around explaining himself, and when he does, we’re dubious. I don’t think there’s a “key” to unlocking the show so much as the need to stay engaged and attentive to the characters and to their surroundings and symbolism—like the Nixon speech.
Why is Don feeding lines to Freddy? Is he just bored, or does he have an end game? He’s vague on that point.
Something I admired greatly about the first season in particular was its clear mimicking of Edward Hopper‘s paintings in each episode’s final frame. It might just be where my head’s at, or the lighting, but I sensed some Gregory Crewdson in the final frame of this episode. No longer is this just the alienation of the modern man: it’s weird, surreal danger.
I didn’t talk much about Joan in my recap, even though she’s one of the most interesting characters on the show. I’m constantly frustrated by how her character winds up in situations that feel like she’s once again being used as a place for us to see that, yes, men are still chauvinists. But the Joan-Don dynamic is one of the finest on this show, and I hope we get some more before it’s over.
Let’s not forget that Don’s kids didn’t pop up in this episode, most notably Sally, who ended last season in trouble at school and angry at her father after catching him with Sylvia. After a season obsessed with parents and children, it’s perhaps remarkable that the only child who shows up in the episode is Margaret, who has clearly switched roles with her father. (We also haven’t seen Bob Benson, but there’s no way that will last.)
Speaking of Margaret and Roger, I intend to end every awkward conversation from now on with “So are we just supposed to eat Eggs Benedict now?”
I think we need to finally admit that Don has a serious thing for dark eye-brunettes (Megan, Sylvia, now the woman on the plane), and that his therapist, were he to ever, ever have a therapist, would likely peg this as his anti-Betty phase
That scene where Don first sees Megan sizzles.
Pete Campbell. Pete. Campbell.