What does rock bottom look like for Don Draper? There was a scene in ”Waldorf Stories” when it seemed as though Don’s lowest moment looked like a crumpled waitress uniform and a night of accidentally being Dick Whitman — but then he poured himself another brown drink and tried to claw his way even lower. There’s something excruciating about Don’s downfall, especially when contrasted with his professional success, and even more especially when we see how eager and vivacious he once was. Oh, the sweet agony of flashbacks.
We opened on a tense but sunny meeting, with Don and Peggy perched on the couch, as a young Danny showed off his book … of terrible ”cure for the common [BLANK]” lines and ads he had nothing to do with. (Danny here is played by Danny Strong, who will always be Doyle from Gilmore Girls to me. Perhaps he’s Jonathan from Buffy to you. Either way.) ”Aspiration’s as good as perspiration,” he pleaded weakly. Don smirked; Peggy sighed. ”Are we on Candid Camera?” Don wondered as he ushered Danny out of the office. It’s worth noting here that Strong barely grazes Jon Hamm’s sternum. And also that Peggy is wearing a form of plaid, as she so often does. Break out of those confining boxes, woman! Run free!
Peggy tried to bond with Don over poor Danny’s disastrous interview — ”There’s no way he’s 24! I’m 25!” — and tried to take some credit for the Glo-Coat campaign, but Don wasn’t having it. Peggy complained that ”[Don]’s new art director” was a major PITA, but Don again put her down a bit, insisting that she had to learn to work with Stan and not the other way around. Why don’t you hire Sal back, Don? I bet he’d be an easy-to-get-along-with art director.
Roger dictated part of his forthcoming autobiography (please let it be called Sterling, Silver or Roger That) until Don interrupted him so they could pregame on their way to the Clios. Ah, resonance: The characters are heading to an awards show at the very moment the cast and crew are, in real life, at an awards show! (And by the time Mad Men had its 11 p.m. playback, AMC was already airing ”congratulations” bumpers.) As Roger and Don toasted each other, we flashed back to…
Their first meeting! Don was sporting some seriously wide lapels — Nathan Detroit wants his notches back — as a bright young fur-coat salesman, earnestly recommending that Roger buy a mink capelet as a getting-to-know-you present for his newest squeeze. Roger noticed a poster on the shop’s wall; it’s Betty (at her Grace Kelly-est) in a decadent white coat, with the tag line ”Why wait for a man to buy you a fur coat?” Roger called the ad dumb, but Don lit up talking about it, and once Roger gave him his card, it was clear the former Dick Whitman wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
NEXT: Oh Joan, what did Roger do to you?