'Mad Men' - 'Public Relations' Recap (Season Premiere)
by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 26th 2010 12:33AM
(S04E01) "Who is Don Draper"? - Advertising Age reporter, to Don
That's probably going to be the big question this fourth season of 'Mad Men.' We know that he's really Dick Whitman, but now that he's divorced and has started his own company and has a new life with an apartment and weekend visits with his kids, we don't know how he's going to handle it all.
I felt an overwhelming sadness in tonight's episode.
Sure, it started with that beautifully filmed and scored scene introducing the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (one floor, but let's tell everyone two) and ended with "Tobacco Road," showing us a new era is upon us, a really nice, upbeat bookend, but the rest was all Don being unhelpful at the interview, screwing up at work, shining his shoes alone in his new apartment, buying sex, spending Thanksgiving alone (well, except for the sex), and just not being really happy.
And we thought -- at least I thought -- that the more upbeat "caper" vibe of last season's finale would continue into this ep and Don would be happier. Not happy that he's away from Betty and the kids but happy because he has a new life in front of him and can do what he wants.
Speaking of Betty: mother of God is she messed up. The first few seasons she was the type of person who you hated and loved at the same time. She had so many flaws but you somehow still rooted for her. That was probably a combo of the writing and January Jones' performance. But in this first episode, I'm starting to actively dislike her.
The way she treats the kids, like she accidentally found herself pregnant three times and now has to "deal" with them. I was happy to see Henry's family not liking her at all. Her forcing the food down Sally's mouth has to rank as one of Betty's worst moments on the show. I swear Sally is going to grow up to have an eating disorder and Bobby is going to become an alcoholic.
And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Henry is that thrilled either. Every scene with him and Betty I could swear I could see a thought bubble over his head that said "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"
'Mad Men' is great at quiet yet intense moments, and this episode had a few. Jantzen not liking Don's pitch even though he thought they would, Peggy's "fiancee" looking uncomfortable as Peggy and Don talked, Betty and Henry coming home late and Don confronting them like he was their parent. Talk about uncomfortable.
But back to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. I was unhappy that Don didn't take the interview with Advertising Age seriously. A guy like Don would know that an interview like that would be incredibly important, especially for a new agency. Don even said "they raise you up then they tear you down," a phrase that is commonplace now, so he knows.
Sure, he has a secret background to hide, but he can certainly keep the Don Draper myth going if he sells it. It reminds me that no one knows about Don/Dick except Betty and Pete (and Cooper, to a certain extent). It probably won't come to a head this season, but it will probably be addressed at some point. Did Betty tell Henry? How will Peggy take it? What will happen when Roger finds out?
It made me happy that Don got back into "caper" mode for the episode-ending interview with The Wall Street Journal and I'm sure that's going to help the agency as the season goes on. Though I hope they can live on the Lucky Strike account for a while (I didn't realize that the jai alai account was such a big portion of their business).
For a moment I thought that Don kicking out the Jantzen guys was going to mean that he had gone overboard and would be in trouble with Cooper, Roger, and Lane, so it was good that they ended the episode on a brighter, more positive note, with Don in charge again, creating another myth.
• Did anyone else think that Don's blind date Bethany looked and sounded a lot like Betty? She was like a younger, more positive Betty. There has to be a reason for that, symbolically at least. Matthew Weiner wouldn't do something like that accidentally. She seems different than Don's other girls though.
• Peggy and Joan have new things that I think work well: a new hairdo for Peggy and an office for Joan. The hair works on her. She seems more modern and sure of herself, more an equal at the office. At the end of last season Joan seemed to lose just a bit of her nasty edge, and you can see that here in her interactions at the office too.
• I don't think I like "likes to get smacked around during sex" Don Draper, but I can't say that it doesn't fit.
• The woman at the other end of the table at Thanksgiving, did they say who that was? I'm assuming it was Henry's mom and not his sister or aunt.
• No Ken or Paul in this ep but Aaron Staton's (Ken) name was in the opening credits and he is in all of the promo pics, so he'll turn up at some point. I wonder if the other old Sterling Cooper gang will pop up too.
• Love the SCDP logo! I want that on a shirt and various other items immediately.
"They're so cheap they can't afford a whole reporter." - Roger, about the Ad Age reporter with the wooden leg
"Stay away from one-legged reporters." - Don, on what he's learned
"I love how they sit there like a couple of choir boys. You know that one of them is leaving New York with VD." - Roger, on the Jantzen guys
"I can use my expense account if I say they're whores." - Pete
"I wish we had a second floor because I'd jump off of it." - Harry
"I've raised people in my life Henry. Those children are terrified of her." - Henry's mom
"She's a silly woman...I know what you see in her and you could have gotten that without marrying her." - Henry's mom
"I don't think I can help you feel better about the world." - Don, to his date Bethany
"It's The Daily News. It's one big section." - Pete, to the women faking the fight
"Believe me Henry, everybody thinks this is temporary." - Don, about the marriage
"You know something? We're all here because of you. All we want to do is please you." - Peggy to Don
Oh, if you're wondering what all the "John" and "Marsha" stuff was all about, here you go: