I’ hope you having been keeping up with Don Draper and the Madison Avenue action on AMC’s original series, Mad Men. If not, here is your is a recap of Mad Men: Season 4.
Season 4 of Mad Men finds Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in fancy new offices in the Time-Life Building. Even so, they are struggling to find new clients. Don Draper starts 1964 with a new company and as a divorced man.
This episode of Mad Men brings back three characters from previous seasons. Freddy Rumsen, the ad exec with a drinking problem who was let go after he wet his pants during a meeting; Lee Garner Jr., the Lucky Strikes cigarettes VP, a spoiled rich boy with too much money and a big secret; and Glenn Bishop, the 12-year old neighbor kid and a psycho killer in the making.
Mad Men: The Good News left me a little sad and more than a little confused. Don Draper continued his downward descent, to the point of being pathetic and somewhat sad. Even for Mad Men fans, it was a slow, relatively uneventful episode that is a set up for bigger things to come. After all, it is 1965 and all kinds of things are about to happen, historically. The Beatles, Viet Nam, and Martin Luther King.
It is the holiday season and Don is alone. He is broken-hearted about losing Betty and not spending the holidays with his children.He plans a vacation to Acapulco, where no doubt he would continue his drinking and womanizing. On the way, he makes a stop in California to visit Anna Draper.
John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling directed this episode of Mad Men. That explains why this was one of the funniest episodes of Mad Men I have ever seen. The show starts out with a hilarious three-sided conversation with Don and Roger on a conference call with Lee Garner Jr. from Lucky Strike, who is angry about the recent law banning certain types of cigarette advertising. Don reaches for a bottle of bourbon.
Don: Why is this bottle empty?
Allison: You drank it all.
In the words of the Bob Dylan song, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’. Roger, Burt, and Pete watch a news report about the growing Civil Rights movement wondering what “they” want. Pete says: Lassie can stay at The Waldorf and “they” can’t. A surprising comment coming from, the usually insensitive Pete Campbell. Yet more changes are on the horizon for Roger Sterling and Sally Draper.
The agency has a chance to pitch a Japanese car company. The usually affable Roger, however adamantly refuses to do business with the Japanese due to his experiences in World War II.
In episode 6 of Mad Men, we learn a little more about Don and Roger’s relationship when the agency is excited about Don’s nomination for a Clio Award for his floor wax commercial. Don is ecstatic about his success; Peggy is resentful that she is not receiving more credit for her contribution to the ad. Roger is feels slighted because Don seems to have forgotten it was Roger who gave him his big break in advertising.
Don, Roger, Joan, and Pete attend the award ceremony at The Waldorf Hotel, in anticipation of Don winning the award, knowing it will mean more prestige for the fledgling agency.
Amidst the excitement of the upcoming Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston boxing match, Peggy works with Stan, Joey, and Danny on the Samsonite commercial. Their idea involves football player Joe Namath. Don hates it. “Endorsements are lazy” and sends them back to the drawing board.
As they work through the night, he avoids making an unwanted call to Anna in California, Don Draper and Peggy Olsen’s relationship goes from mentor to colleague or even friend.
For most of Season 4, Don Draper has been on a downward spiral, drinking and breaking his own personal boundaries. In this episode, The Summer Man, we see Don is trying to control his drinking and turn his life around.
“As soon as you have to cut down on your drinking; you know you have a drinking problem”– Don Draper
Realizing that his drinking has become a problem and that his life is out of control. “My mind is a jumble. I can’t organize my thoughts.” Don limits his drinking, starts swimming and begins to keep a journal. It is this journal that gives us insight into what Don is going through.
He is a man who has lost what meant most to him…his family. Don write some goals in his journal, such as visiting Africa and gaining “a modicum of control over the way I feel.” It is in his journal that Don reflects on his what his life has become. This self-reflection shows us much more about the man, Don Draper/Dick Whitman and the merging of the two personas.
The ladies of Mad Men have problems of their own. In The Beautiful Girls, we see Joan, Peggy, Faye, and even little Sally Draper entering new phases in their lives that are new and unknown.
Just when you think Matt Wiener has shocked and surprised us enough in Season 4, the Mad Men finale is full of surprises and fresh starts.