#MadMen Recap

There are times in every TV show where you get clarity as to where you feel a show is going. There are other times where your perception of a character  is fundamentally flawed.

This happened for me in the 3rd episode of Mad Men.

Don Draper has always been a flawed protagonist. But over the last 5 seasons, we have been lulled into rooting for him. We have pulled for him. At every turn he has seemed to get it together. But after this episode, we get it. Don Draper is simply a protagonist villain. An anti-hero who at times has showed character and toughness, but will always be what he is. A hypocrite.

For a lack of a better phrase, this episode is all about the hypocrisy that is Don Draper.

Don and Pete are secretly courting Heinz Ketchup. Even though Don waxed philosophical about loyalty to Heinz beans. The irony of their first meeting with Ketchup being in Pete’s apartment in the city can’t be lost.

It doesn’t end well.

Don loses the Heinz deal to Peggy and seems to enjoy the fact that she is using his lines to beat him. The student has beat the teacher.

Megan Draper has a saucy love-scene in her soap opera. She asks Don permission and he is tolerable of her acting. Megan and Don later say no to swinging overtures from Megan’s boss and his wife. When he later watches her acting the part well, he ridicules Megan and implies that she is a whore. And then goes off to continue his affair with the doctor’s wife.

Meanwhile, Joan is shown as vulnerable and lacking control in her life. Harry Crane clashes with her over her “fascist” grip over the secretaries and storms into a partner’s meeting where he accuses her of sleeping her way to the top. He then demands to be included as a partner. But this is less about Harry than it is about Joan. We start having doubts about her as we recall that while she started out helping Harry read through scripts, has she fully “earned” the position she is in now.

The main arc though, the arc of Don, culminates with him in bed with his mistress. He asks her to remove her cross necklace not because it means anything to him, but because it means something to her. He mockingly asks her if she prays for absolution after they finish? She replies that she prays for him. She prays that he finds peace.

But will peace come? Who knows. But does Don deserve peace? For the first time we are seriously asking whether he does.

Don is perfectly happy cheating at life, work, and marriage…as long as it is secret. It has long been said that integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking. There is an uneasy feeling that comes from realizing that you have been rooting for an anti-hero all along. Or maybe that WAS the reason you rooted for him along? That feeling is deeper. And that is where we feel this train is heading.


Other Recaps:

Season Premiere

Episode 2


1 Comment

  1. April 22, 2013  9:47 am by Mike Oleksy Reply

    Great review. Thought the same thing.

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