If there's one thing we've learned in nearly four seasons, it's that Don is a survivor. He's good at making lemonade from a bitter helping of lemons. But not everyone is going to make it through as the past gives way to the future.
It's the penultimate episode of the season, SCDP is desperate, and Don is making moves. We've come a long way since the beginning of the season, where Don struggled with his own identity, and now SCDP is struggling with theirs.
This episode was disappointing to me, in that it demanded such a suspension of disbelief, with very intelligent and sophisticated characters behaving in remarkably boneheaded ways. And it had a major soap opera cliche employed in striking fashion.
Last night's Mad Men episode, "The Beautiful Girls," centers around Faye, Sally, Miss Blankenship, Peggy and Joan -- all in different stages of life, dealing with their own roles as women as well as their roles with the men that rely on them.
As the title suggests, it's the ladies that drive this episode's plot. They range from young and rebellious, old and dead, or somewhere inbetween and ambivalent. "It's a business of sadists and masochists," Ida tells Peggy, "and you know which one you are."
The quality of Don's voiceover gives the episode a different dear-diary kind of feel. Instead of watching him experience subtle and intense emotion, he's actually telling us what he's thinking, taking control of the narrative.
After all the ink that has been spilled over the storytelling brilliance of Mad Men, it sounds like a cliché to say it is that great. But it is. Don is a character, but he is a character written for me and about a million other guys.
With New York Fashion Week underway, I couldn't help but see Betty in Ports 1961, Peggy in Jason Wu, Joan in Prabal Gurung, and Don in Simon Spurr. We cannot deny the profound effect Mad Men has had on the latest trends.
It doesn't look like Matt Weiner is much of a Beatles fan. We've had Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and now the Rolling Stones ... but the lads from Liverpool have been relegated to Christmas gifts for Don's kids bought by his former secretary.
Wow! This week's episode of Mad Men was truly superb, the best this season--perhaps the best of any season. On the night of the historic Liston-Ali fight, Don and Peggy hang back in the office and do some sparring of their own.
Elisabeth Moss, always good, shines here. Her natural reticence combines with her reluctance to definitively challenge this man whom she both fears and loves. It's a great set of moments for her, and for the series.