Mad Men: The Mountain King
by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 20th 2008 9:57AM
(S02E12)"Stop lying. You've been caught." - Anna Draper to Dick Whitman
If Don were ten years older and this was 1972 instead of 1962, we'd be saying that Don Draper is going through a mid-life crisis. After spending last week contemplating a new future with the jet set, or at least getting the offer of a hobo-existence without the worries of finances or fidelity, Don was compelled to look back before making a choice. That phone call at the end of The Jet Set was to the real Mrs. Draper.
Back home, meanwhile, Betty is again faced with having to grow up. Between her father's decline, Don's disappearance and her rebukes of Arthur and Glenn, Betts has been forced to be more than she's been in the past. Sally's latest stunt shouldn't be a shock considering that she's snuck a drink earlier this season and clearly idolizes everything her father does.
Sally blames Betty for Don's absence, and Betty realizes that pain she's been feeling is just as acute for her child and she does something human about it -- she gives Sally the boots to cushion the blow of the truth that Daddy may not be coming back.
It's yet to be determined if Don is coming back. I love that the office of 1962 respects him so much that they don't even question or pursue his disappearance. They allow a man of Don's stature the same kind of idiosyncracies they do Roger and Bert. Don's choice is to disappear now and then. Peggy's loyalty to Don came through again clearly when she refused to gossip with Pete. She's also learned well from her mentor. Confronting Roger for Freddie's office was brilliantly done.
Peggy also pulled of a great presentation for Popsicle. The ritual metaphor showed how much she understands how advertising works. Don was wise to recognize her talent. Someone as book-smart as Ken completely missed the point. Popsicle was her victory.
Pete seemed to overreact to the the Spence Chapin appointment and throwing the chicken off the terrace might be symbolic of tossing off his marriage. I don't see Trudy's family forgiving him. Taking away Clearasil was just a start.
All the ducks (thanks to Duck Phillips) are lined up for the merger with the British company, even though Bert Cooper claims, "You can't trust the Brits." Still, Bert's sister, Alice, sees the wisdom of the deal and with Roger all gung-ho and Don not there to speak, Sterling Cooper takes the bait. Ramifications from this will be huge, just watch. Don taking orders from Duck? He could take his millions from the merger and created the Don Draper Agency, starting with Peggy as a creative director!
Ultimately, this was a great episode for back story on the evolution of Don Draper, as we learned that the blonde from the car dealership was, in fact, the real Mrs. Draper. What was fascinating was that based on a lie -- a lie that Dick Whitman confessed to -- a relationship was formed that seems more real and secure for Don than the one he has with Betty. He can tell Anna anything, and does.
Don's dip in the ocean, coming after the Tarot cards, seemed to suggest a baptism for him. Is this how he'll wash away his sins and return to Betty and his children? Maybe he's going to be resurrected as yet another man -- not Dick, not Don, but someone else? I think it's more likely he's ready to return to Betty and confess the truth -- all the truth -- and start anew.
Finally, the most disturbing story was Joan's discovery that her fiance is a rapist. She was the victim. When he rejected her attempt in bed to get on top (reminiscent of Betty and Don's last encounter on the floor), you sensed something was off. Joan offered, "Let me do the driving." But Dr. Greg doesn't operate like that. He has to have power and in Joan's world -- in Don's office -- he forced her to have sex on the floor. Given the times and her psyche, Joan will marry this man and punish him for years to come. The seeds of hate were sown when he did what he did. She will get back at him in a slow, cruel way.
One last observation: was Betty bleeding a sign that she's pregnant or was preg and horseriding was a way to end it? That happened back in the pre-abortion era.
|I'm not sure||169 (36.4%)|