TV Review: Mad Men 4.6: Waldorf Stories
Oh, Mr. Draper. How far you have fallen and when we thought the hole could get no deeper you make it ever so. And this week’s episode only made it look worse by juxtaposing his lowest moments yet against his spry and earnest beginnings at Sterling Cooper. God it was nice to see that young and optimistic man of the 50’s doing anything he can too get the ear of Roger Sterling after a chance encounter at Don’s job as a fur salesman. (Did you spot another once smiling face in the ad that caught Roger’s eye?) Don’s ambition has never left him but his innocence for sure has, and seeing those moments of hope as he gleefully courts roger are an eye opening reveal to how far this man has really fallen. Added to this, Don is only where he is due to dumb luck/Roger’s drunkenness and it was quite the brush stroke by Weiner to further bring down and humanize the legend that is Don Draper by making his success so arbitrary. Before this week we were left to wonder in our own imagination how Don won his place at Sterling Cooper. Was it a classic Draper pitch, did the agency lift him from another agency, was his brilliance so bright they just had to have him? Turns out Sterling didn’t want to have anything to really do with him and he drunkenly hired Don over a day full of cocktails in which Don indulged Roger to let the young aspiring ad man to bask in Roger’s greatness. (Passing thought though, was the fact that they didn’t show Roger drunkenly offering Don the job actually Don’s first brilliant play in the ad game; getting Roger so drunk he wouldn’t remember what happened. Sounds like something George Castanza would do.)
Getting validation played wonderfully as a theme for this episode and the events that transpired around the theme helped mold an interesting look at SCDP. While Don was basking in his validation with the ad award for Glo-Coat, Peggy was grasping for anything from Don on the credit she seems to have deserved for the commercials idea. Peggy claims she came up with the idea of the little boy behind bars, with Don putting the cowboy spin on the character. Yet Don, unsurprisingly, hasn’t sent an ounce of credit her way since it began getting recognized and her new creative “partner” would get the majority of her wrath as she strips him down, quite literally, to see if he really can cash the checks his big mouths writes. I think Peggy has firmly reclaimed her spot on the creative hierarchy right behind Don.
Roger is trying to validate his usefulness to the company but all he can really muster is that he discovered Don Draper. As the above revelations described in this weeks flashback’s show though, he can’t honestly claim that to himself, but he will go on claiming it to anyone that will listen. I wonder what the implications of his flashback with Joan are though in the grand scheme of things in the world of Mad Men. Not sure how that is going to fit in, other than the potential obvious re-romance, but I will keep watchful eyes on this coming back around.
Pete had some old emotions stirred up with the potential return of Kenny “Haircut” Cosgrove to the SCDP family and he showed some real maturity after a potential classic weasel Pete breakdown. Sure he was kind of a dick when he made it clear to Ken that he was the accounts man at SCDP, and a partner above that, but he was mostly asserting his dominance and seniority at the firm while making it clear to Ken that while he respects him, Pete is in charge here. The most revealing element of this sub-plot was Lane coming right out and saying that Roger is more or less dead weight and that he is only bringing in Kenny to help Pete carry the load. Kenny might even only be regulated to the accounts he brings with him.
One more quick note on Don and his disastrous run with women this week. Don drunkenly makes a pass at Faye, which she smartly parleys, going home with a groupie at the awards after party instead, and then waking up two days later on Sunday morning having taken home a diner waitress. What happened between the groupie and the diner girl is anyone’s guess as Don was apparently black out drunk from Friday night to Sunday morning, but they made it sound like Don ran out the groupie after a day of fun while at the diner and on his third plate of fries decides to take the waitress home for a little dessert with Dick Whitman (even more points lost for Don as the waitress was a grenade for Draper’s standards). Oh what a drunken mess he has become. Oh yeah, he also stole a tag line from a dopey in-law of Sterling’s trying to break into the firm on a favor from Roger that he and Peggy practically laughed out of the office. Though I hope the fact that he gives this kid a chance in the end is a sign that Don might finally be on his way out of the grave he is digging.
Bits and pieces:
-Jon Hamm did a wonderful job this week playing Don Draper at both ends of the characters spectrum and showed tremendous range. Maybe this episode will finally be his Emmy winning turn next year when I am sure he will be up against the just as deserving three time champ Bryan Cranston.
-How bout Peggy just calling that new guy out and stripping down as she took the upper hand over the self proclaimed nudist calling him on his bullshit. She said so much with barely saying a word, but when she spoke she was skewering him left and right for the rest of the episode.
-Really liked the holding hands moment at the awards show, showed perfectly just how much they cared to win that thing. Also, intrigued they took Joan to the ceremony.
-Enjoyed that they show that even while Pete continues to grow he also has moments of weakness sulking back into his old ways.
-I see Duck Phillips is still off the wagon!
-God I want to punch that weasel Ted Chaough, I guess the commercial didn’t sink them, but I really hope Don lands the final blow before it might be to late.
-With Clearasil gone, is Teddy gone? Wait, he was Ponds, regardless, MIA for a couple weeks now.
-Couple of cool time lapse shots in this episode, even switch girls in one, really helps keep things going.
-Don forgetting about the kids I think was the biggest signal that he is almost or at bottom, he might be a little confused what to do with them but he doesn’t want to miss out on them.
-Danny is the new dope that Don hires at the end; Peggy’s reaction of “Are you kidding?” was priceless.
-Danny is in next weeks episode too, wonder how long this one will last.
Ok, that is it for now, see you all next week!