Last Sunday’s episode, The Summer Man, featured an introspective Don controlling his alcohol intake while pondering his problems. The episode starts with Don swimming at the NYAC, doing one lap & bursting into a cough. Later in the episode he was fit enough to race another guy in he adjacent lane, and win. It was fascinating at the same time of being reminiscent of the Burt Lancaster classic film The Swimmer (1968), which in turn was based on a John Cheever story first published in 1965, the year in which this episode takes place.
Unlike Cheever’s Swimmer, Don’s life has not careened out of control. Even when he admits that his mind is a jumble, Don realizes that he can attain a modicum of peace, introspection is not a bad thing after all, and sleeping alone is actually pleasant. As the WSJ’s recap put it,
Mick Jagger can’t get no satisfaction—but last night’s installment of “Mad Men” made it seem like Don Draper might be able to.
Let’s hope he does.
Another very interesting plot twist involved sexual harassment by Joey-the-freelance-illustrator who ends up being fired by Peggy; however, Joan clarified to Peggy how Joan would have handled it – and kept power on Joan’s hand, instead of Peggy’s – illustrating the changing strategies women faced as the working world evolved.
During her dates with Don, Fay brings up the fable of the wind and the sun, which neatly tied all the story lines together at the end of the episode. Or does it?
The episode started with Mick Jagger singing Satisfaction, and ended with the credits silently rolling by. Toril Moi asks,
Who can’t get no satisfaction in this episode? At first, it may look as if it is Don, since the song plays when he stands outside the gym watching the women go by. (The Rolling Stones’ song was released in the U.S. in June 1965.) But this episode is more about Don’s redemption than about his frustration: he is the summer man who will flourish after his winter of hibernation.
Of course Don’s not going to remain the controlled, introspective swimmer in each and every episode, since this is a soap opera after all, but the series’s writers have managed to merge well-realized fictional characters, history, advertising products, and the changing sex roles in the workplace, simultaneously maintaining and renewing our interest.
And now for the superficial stuff:
Other highlights were the brilliant Miss Blankenship recovering from eye surgery, and the women’s fashions. You can’t help but notice the impeccable fit on Peggy’s blue dress with red gores, and how every female character is wearing exactly her personality. Of course Jon Hamm fans will love the swimming scenes, and Christopher Stanley (Henry) looks very fine while shirtless.
Tonight’s episode, The Beautiful Girls, airs at 10PM Eastern; here’s the preview:
I certainly hope he doesn’t.