With only two episodes left of the first half of the final season of Mad Men, we are only now beginning to see Don getting back to his best, which bodes well for the mini-season finale if he is to see out the 1960s at Sterling Cooper & Partners.
It seems as if our dapper gent really took the talk that Freddie gave him to heart, as Don had seemingly swallowed his pride and was putting up with working under not only Lou, but also his own protege Peggy. Ouch.
The irony of this finale season of Mad Men, is that Don has acted impeccably in comparison to previous seasons on the show, and yet his career is still suffering even more than at any other time during the show’s run. He hasn’t been unfaithful, he hasn’t been temperamental and he’s frequently had his pride walked all over by men not nearly as talented as himself. All to little avail so far it would seem.
And yet Jim Cutler still conspires to get rid of him. Cutler, who has very much become Mad Men’s chief antagonistic figure of the final season, was caught holding clandestine meetings with a major cigarette firm at the end of The Runaways; Don having written an open anti-tobacco letter for the New York Times when Lucky Strike abandoned Sterling Cooper, would be forced to resign if this little plot were to succeed.
It was nice to see Don control his alcoholism long enough to fight back, tactically telling the big-wigs at Commander Cigarettes he would resign if they hired Sterling Cooper for their ad work. But wait! “I can only think about what your friends at American Tobacco would think if you made me apologise. Forced me into your service.” You sly fox Don…
Things weren’t on the up for everyone however.
Megan, who seemingly has decided to stay with Don for the time being, revealed the deep insecurities on her side of the relationship. The reappearance of a pregnant Stephanie Draper, the “niece” of Don, was enough to send Megan into emotional overdrive.
She conspired to get rid of Stephanie at the earlier moment, before Don could see her, before doing all she could to entice her man, to little avail. Neither a saucy dance with a bearded stranger at a party, or allowing Don to indulge in a threesome between themselves and Megan’s friend were enough enough to gain his attention the morning after. This marriage is clearly only heading one way.
Betty wasn’t doing much better. “Keep your conversation to how much you hate toast clumps in the butter, and leave the thinking to me,” has surely got to be the most chauvinistic sentence ever uttered on Mad Men at this point?
Worst of all of course was poor Ginsberg. The “humming” of the machine, seemed to affect his zen worse than anyone else in the office, and the shock of seeing a nipple in a box on a show such as Mad Men, which is normally so stingy with its flesh, made it all the more impactful.
Mad Men then, is fantastically poised for drama as we approach the final two episodes of the mini season.