First off, an interview with Miss Blankenship, AKA Randee Heller. How come nobody told me she's the mom from The Karate Kid?
Moving into summer 1965, this season seems to be covering a lot of time, with the plots hinging more on character development than a core conflict. It's natural then to have this sort of aimless episode (the summary reads, "Joan and Peggy deal with hijinx in the office.") introducing us to the end of Don's crazy year.
Whether it was Anna's death or reconnecting with Peggy, Don is finally getting his shit together. When he says, "I don't want to be that man anymore," I think he's talking about the Don Draper he created. Episode 1 of the season kicked off with the question, "Who is Don Draper?" and with Anna's death, his family distant and adrift, Don is putting that together again, reconciling Dick Whitman and Don Draper into someone new and barely recognizable. Sober(ish) Don manages to be encouraging, careful, and a little shy. He even took a page from Pauly D's book who, in last night's bonus episode of Jersey Shore, didn't take home his hot Cuban chick cause she was "wife material" and therefore had to be treated differently. Could Don be thinking the same thing about Dr. Faye? Is she stepping into her own prophecy that Don will be married again in a year? Or is she too smart for that? Either way it's nice to see Don with someone who's his professional, emotional, and intellectual equal, for the first time since Rachel.
I was wondering if last week was the catalyst episode for his recovery and the answer seems to be yes.
Like Don, Joan is trying to assert control over her life and work but not succeeding as well. She embodies one of the lines from Don's diary, having what she always wanted but missing what she had before. Joan is still feared, but she used to be respected, or at least appreciated. Now she doesn't have any friends and hardly any power.
Her little scene with Peggy was very instructive. Peggy thinks she's helping Joan, Joan thinks she can take care of herself. There's a lot of fault to go around there. Joey is a little prick (so glad he's gone) but Peggy forgets to heed Don's warning from last week about seeing everything as an opportunity. She perks up at the chance to take care of her own problems in her own way. But Joan is still very old school, thinking a dinner with a client could ruin Joey's career. Joan still thinks her power lies in flaunting herself and teasing men. Peggy thinks it's in not letting people defy you. If there's one thing dead on that Joan points out in the elevator, it's that to most men in 1965, they're still just women to be teased and objectified. Nothing can change that.
Happy to see Betty, honestly. Her and Don's dynamic remains one of the best on the show. They always manage to bring something unique out in the other. (And the first time we've seen Francine in awhile. Yay!) Henry remains sympathetic; even as a total dick I believe his motivations. You try living with the most infantile, petulant, insipid brat in the world.
So we're on an upward trajectory, I suppose. Floating until the next round of bullshit hits our characters. I'm still wondering how Peggy's bohemian social life is going. But here are some random observations.
- Lots of name dropping this episode. Peyton Place. Ray Charles. The Rolling Stones (Satisfaction came out in June '65, so let's forgive this one). The Odd Couple. And Margaret Mead, who I had to look up. Anthropologist.
- I love
Mrs. Larussso Miss Blankenship but the eye surgery thing was a gag too far.
- Harry really is always looking for a job. Does he want to be an agent? He must have his eyes on Hollywood. Funny Joey thought he was gay.
- Don's notable pauses before every sip of liquor. Loved the little camera trick after his tiny drink in the meeting, everyone zooms back a little bit. Don's been taking himself out of his life for a long time. I wonder how he'll do putting himself back in.
- I like Dr. Faye but does she have to speak in fables to explain her job? Irritating writing. She seems more down to earth than that. Also, mafia father. Hope that never becomes part of the plot.