Right off the bat, let’s lift a shadow off this evening: The only people for us are the mad ones and there’s nothing nearly eloquent enough to explain our excitement about the return of Mad Men tonight (and the return of us gabbing about each new episode afterward) with the fourth season premiere, “Public Relations,” but August is going to start us off with…
August Bravo: One of those guys is going to leave New York with a VD.
Is it me or shouldn’t this episode have been titled “Don Fucking Draper,” right?
Marco Sparks: Seriously. That would have been a great title for the season premiere of the show for rich people and rich minds alike.
August: Seriously. This episodes taps into the psyche of Don and who he is now. Maybe who he always was.
Marco: I feel like every single season we’re told that there’s a larger question hanging over that particular year or story arc, and there is no resolution, not clearly. There’s milestones. There’s totems on that timeline. There’s road blocks and rest stops, but that probing question only gets more complicated, more faceted…
But it’s nice that no matter how despicable some of Don’s actions can be, he’s still one of our better role models for men on television. Right? Well… no, probably not. There’s obviously a very masculine energy to him, a complicated creature of intrigue and overflowing with a talent that can’t be denied and a certain enviable confidence. But it’s a weird time for men now, not unlike the 60s in some regards, and it’s hard to find good male role models in this day and age…
…I mean, right?
Though it’s interesting to watch the new era of Don Draper. The single Don, a man living a sadder life perhaps? It’s like watching an actor without a real role. Don’s always a little more in his zone when he’s lying to a woman effectively and it’s got to be hard for him when the possible new girl in his life sees through a little of the old tricks of his. But, Don being Don, and knowing the ways of the world like he does, and being in advertising after all, he relies on kindly women from the oldest profession who can give him what he wants, a literal expression of what has happened to him thus far: A good slapping around.
August: No need for the hooker to take off her brassiere, she already knows what Don wants.
Marco: Even if perhaps Don himself doesn’t.
August: I’m not sure a lot of people could have imagined Don throwing himself down to this level. But I don’t think it’s like that.
Marco: I’m sure the events of his life sure haven’t helped. The confusion at work as they build a new company. The constant struggle to move out of the darkened corners of invisible anonymity in the creative department to becoming the poster boy, the handsome cipher, the face of the company.
It’s 1964 at this point, it’s Thanksgiving, and Don isn’t finding himself a whole lot to be thankful for. This new found freedom isn’t necessarily good for him, it sure as hell isn’t glamorous in any way, and divorced guys are seemingly considered basically damaged goods. And I think a lot of people came up with a lot of reasons for why Don like or wants or needs a bit of the rough stuff in his sex life, specifically being slapped, but the very first thing I got out of it was a reminder of Betty slapping him back in the season finale last year.
August: Life is just slapping him around at this point. I think it’s about what he said earlier. Every day he works is an investment for the company. He has no time to pick up women and seduce them into copious amounts of sex, to play that particular game that he plays so well. He has work to do.
Marco: Cause in every single way, Don is the star of this show.
I love the use of “John And Marsha” by Stan Freeberg, one of the kings of early satire, and the song is both a lovely inside joke when it comes to the world of advertising and a nice joke on soap operas. And it only becomes so much more meta when you consider that that’s really what Mad Men is.
August: In the metamorphosis from Sterling Cooper to Sterling Cooper Draper Price I’m glad they’ve updated from their shanty of an office in a hotel room to an actual floor, which unfortunately enough for Harry Crane doesn’t have more than one story, with their name on the door. Sorry Pete, guess they did end up having a lobby. But still no table…
Marco: I think we’re all holding our breath in anticipation of more Joan. And the possibility of Joan and Don… you know. That’s the difference, in just some regards, between a show like Mad Men and True Blood… True Blood is all soft core fan service (at some point everyone on that show will have fucked everyone else on that show for our amusement) and Mad Men is cerebral teasing all the way. It’s about dangling and snatching away at the last moment.
I especially think that’s true in light of this episode of Mad Men, which is all about not being able to close certain deals and not wanting to close others. You gotta love Don’s orchestrated “fuck off” to the prudes manufacturing sex in swim wear and thinking they’re better than they are.
August: I enjoyed the ruse Peggy and Pete conjured in order to garner press for the ham company. Didn’t go as planned, but that’s life I guess.
Marco: “It was going great… until it wasn’t.” Is this the beginning of real publicity stunts as prominent and regular tools for advertising?
August: It’s hard out there for the boys and girls in America. Especially in the 60′s. 1964, if I’m not mistaken?
Marco: It certainly is.
August: Sad to see no one from the old Sterling Cooper in the episode, but I’m sure we will in due time.
Marco: Like your beloved Ken Cosgrove.
August: Ken had cool hair. Terrific few parts of the episode? Don and Roger bickering back and forth about the one-legged reporter and his inability to write a real story. Maybe they should talk to a whole reporter next time? Ha-ha. Roger sure as shit was the comedy relief in this episode as a lot of things/people were so morose.
Now back to Don, who has always been the main character of the show, I guess the protagonist, if you will, who really made this episode what it was. I think he feels this is temporary, this won’t last with Betty…
Marco: Henry Francis just feels like he’s about to get hit by a car or walk off the top of a skyscraper any moment now, doesn’t he? His patheticness almost makes Betty look even more cruel and horrid. It leaves where she ends up because of her frustrations from the past few years even more unchecked. Just as the kids are scared of their mother, I can’t imagine Francis not growing bored of her and then where will Matthew Weiner deliver her( and us)?
August: Will Don get back with her? Will he want to? The man with no key to his own house. I love his ability to take the jabs by his attorney and Roger in this episode. Usually so defensive, I think he’s just too shot down. Or just doesn’t give a shit anymore.
Marco: I’d be hurt if Benjie Light doesn’t have a few words to share with us about Betty, but I like where they’re taking the kids here, story-wise and post-divorce, the way they’re building on what we’ve seen so far concerning Sally and Bobby Draper. Sally, of course, is going to rebel and be repulsed by the way her little life is going so far and Bobby is going to grow up to be fucking creepy. If they ever do an episode flashing forward to where all the characters ended up, I want to see Bobby Draper, with his new striving to be liked by everyone now, as a politician.
And since they cast Matt Long as Peggy’s little partner, I’m wondering just out of curiosity since I never actually watched Jack And Bobby (and I don’t believe that anyone else did either)(though I think John Slattery was on there too), but didn’t Bobby end up being the one who grew up to become President?
August: No need for Don to try to defend his failing marriage, he’s got other things to worry about. Like mentioning jai alai…
Marco: Fucking jai alai.
August: …in his news story. Maybe that interview with the Wall Street Journal will make it all better?
Marco: Or so much worse. Is this the beginning of Don getting so much bigger in his own mind? Don Draper as Dirk Diggler?
August: His bitterness towards Henry and Betty was no surprise, after all, they’re living in his own house, rent free.
Marco: I hope that Betty becomes the new Don in that house.
Especially since Henry’s idea of recapturing the magic between involves them fucking in the car, seemingly echoing back to when they had to sneak around? Only one episode in and I already feel like these characters feel like they can’t handle the a-changin’ times around them and they’re flirting with the soft seduction of the past and all of it’s elements, the moments when they felt happier or more dangerous.
August: I couldn’t tell you where this episode may take us, as far as the new season is concerned. I’m just hoping I get to see more of Pryce.
Marco: And Joan. And maybe more Trudy/Alison Brie? And maybe we can slowly grasp our way towards something resembling that eternally elusive question that this show constantly is hanging over us…
August: Who is Don Draper?