Also new and surprisingly effective: a moment of Don-cam, complete with slow-motion gazes and a Vertigo-style zoom following his first sip of liquor, pushing the Mountain Dew team to a more manageable distance. It’s a canny encapsulation of how the habit brings a sense of order to Don’s world, however slippery.
Yes, Don’s got a problem, and he’s finally ready to see it. Betty, meanwhile, is getting there: she thinks her problem is Don, who she’s infuriated to share a restaurant dining room with, but really it’s her blinding anger. Of course, it takes more than hubby number two Henry, his inhuman patience finally at an end, throwing it in her face: “Hate’s a strong word, Betty. I hate Nazis.”
Joan also has a problem, in the form of the insidiously juvenile boys club that’s taken up residence outside her office window, Joey in particular. Between Joey telling her that she walks around “like you’re trying to get raped” and her husband (the rapist) suggesting a role-playing fantasy straight out of Roger Sterling’s playbook—not to mention her duties running a tight office—poor Joan is getting knocked around like a pinball. The only person who seems to be listening is Peggy, and even she screws it up by firing Joey after a particularly distasteful prank: “All you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary and you’re a humorless bitch.” Peggy’s look of horror says it all: OMG SHE’S RIGHT.
The rewards of Don’s turnaround materialize perhaps too quickly: Dr. Faye Miller acquiescing to dinner, his own uncharacteristic restraint in the cab afterward, winning a face-off with a young swimmer. But they’re small victories compared with the sacrifice Don’s making: the sequence in which he picks up his things from the old house and then trashes them, the bittersweet closing image of Don nose-to-nose with his two-year-old while Betty watches pityingly. Betty finally realizes it too, just in time for Don to have found a suitable replacement for her. For sure, there are more setbacks to come, and more progress to make, for both of them.
Finally, someone offers:
— "Did you want me to buy him or her a gift?" I don't care what anyone says, Miss Blankenship is a goddamn riot.
— "Summer's coming. Smelled it." I seem to remember reading that drunks lose their sense of smell. Is that right?
— The Don Draper detox kit: one can Dinty Moore beef stew, one can Budweiser, one notepad and pen.
— "I feel like Margaret Mead."
— Nice to see Anne Dudek return as Betty’s gossipy friend Francine, though I know we’d all rather watch her needling House as hot no-nonsense Dr. Amber.
— “So what you’re saying is, you want my coat?” That’s Corny Don FTW.
— What’s working in Don’s journal: “More and more every day about Vietnam. Hope it’s not another Korea.” “I’ve never written more than 250 words, even in school… God, I was lazy.” “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.”
— What’s not: “I thought of all the women in there. One in every room, touching themselves to sleep.” Really, Don?
— Do we really need a shot of Don free-falling through the water in the pool? Don’t we get that at the start of every episode?
— Anyone care to decode this one from Dr. Faye Miller? “He owns a candy store, and there are certain responsibilities that go along with that.”
— “I know the joke. This guy’s balls are so big…”
— “Every place I work, there’s always some old fairy who comes onto me, but that was the weirdest by far.”
— “I can’t wait til next year when all of you are in Vietnam.”
Yup, next to the li-barry.
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