I should preface this by admitting I kept dozing off during Mad Men last night - not because it was boring, but because of the oddly drowsy mixture of traveling all day and then watching the entirety of SCDPCGC move in fast motion for an hour. I would close my eyes for a second, and then suddenly there'd be a strange woman in the Drapers' apartment. Or Ken would go from bruised hobbling to perfectly controlled tap dancing. Or Betty would be thin and blonde again. I kept waiting for Don to wake up from his nap on the couch. This isn't my dream OR his? Seriously?
***Oh, and by the way, Time Warner Cable erased our recording as soon as it ended. We were watching it a few minutes delayed, and then it just disappeared. THANKS AGAIN, TIME WARNER CABLE!
The episode opens on Ken Cosgrove driving a rambunctious pack of drunk, trigger-happy Chevy reps around Detroit. Their car crashes, and I'm positive we've just lost Ken. But thanks to a wacky doctor's experimental butt shots, everyone at the firm speeds up x200 and Ken's doing maxifords like he never needed a cane. Good thing Old Kenny's back to normal!
We finally get more of Don's background, dredged up from his breakup with Sylvia. Back in his whorehouse days, he got so sick that a hooker had to take care of him. She nursed Don back to health, took his virginity, got fired, and outed his escapade, which led to a pretty rough wooden spoon beating from his stepmother. This is the key to understanding Don's sexual pathology? He was rejected by mother figures until the one that sort of did the job also gave him a shameful, punishment-inducing sexual encounter? I keep waiting for Young Don to run out of the house and let his leg braces fall off and keep running and running forever. He's like a sad, oversexed Forrest Gump with as-yet undiagnosed mental delays.
Ted's old friend and partner Gleason has finally died, leaving behind a psychic hippie daughter who ends up having sex with Stan in his office while Harry Hamlin watches. Don't worry about the girl, though - Stan really needed to get laid, and it couldn't be with Peggy for some reason. Suddenly her vocabulary contains the word "no," I guess. Stan slits his arm and Don sprints around the Creative pit. The answer's in the oatmeal ad. Beauty marks EVERYWHERE.
Back at the apartment, things aren't quite as crazy. Sure, there's a weird old black lady going through Don's stuff, and sure, the kids are there alone. But what qualifies as crazy at this point? Sally knows to ask this woman questions, but she doesn't know what the answers should be. How does this woman know their names? "Are we negroes?" asks Bobby. Can this show just follow him around for a while?
Finally things come crashing to a halt when Don arrives home to a living room full of policemen, ex-wives, and terrifying reality. He falls over like a cement statue, somehow avoiding a heart attack or stroke, which we're all 80% sure is going to happen one of these days. Thank god he has the wherewithal to speak to Sally the next day and explain that it was his fault for leaving the door unlocked. And that plenty of adults were fooled, too. And that he's not sick or dying, it was just a fluke fainting spell. This is parenting, and there are no wooden spoons to be found.
At the end of the hour, Don begins to find closure with Sylvia and condemns the advertising industry as a whorehouse. This is the culmination of season 6's version of season 5's LSD episode: maybe not all women are abusive sexpots waiting to dole out punishment, and maybe not all Chevy clients are worth sacrificing Ken Cosgrove's (or the rest of the staff's) well-being. I'm not sure how either of these epiphanies will affect Don's love- or work-lives (besides him removing himself from the creative process), but it certainly FEELS like a turning point, right? It's either that or an autistic child's snowglobe fantasy.
photos courtesy amctv.com