As the conflict in Vietnam rages on, things start to get personal for Don Draper. The last few episodes of Mad Men have been pretty great because they got back to what makes the show interesting – the advertising business. The whole “Don’s mistress” plotline has been a real slog, and I’ll be happy when it’s over. This week, however, did throw an interesting wrench into the issue.
When Mitchell Rosen, the adult son of the Drapers’ downstairs neighbors, comes back from college and faces service in Vietnam, things get intense. Don takes the opportunity to “comfort” Sylvia downstairs when Arnold is away, only to be walked in on by Sally. This is her first real exposure to her father’s philandering, echoing Don seeing his own mother having sex as a child, and it really made the whole episode. Sally’s probably the show’s best character in my opinion, and the scene between the two was awesome. So where does she go from here? Will Megan find out?
The business end of the show dealt with the new agency’s attempt to secure Ocean Spray as a client, which they did successfully. This also gave us a pretty interesting scene between Pete and Peggy, both drunk and a little nostalgic. What this show does best is acknowledge the complex relationships between the characters – which is also what makes it basically impossible for new people to get into – and this week really showed that off.
The most perplexing plotline of the season has to be Bob Benson – what is his deal? We got a little more information in this episode, with Bob taking advantage of Pete Campbell’s homophobia to plant a seed of doubt in his collapsing mind. I really don’t think Benson is actually gay – why would he hit on such an obviously not-gay guy – he’s just playing some kind of next-level mind game at Sterling Cooper & Partners. What his end goal is I still have no idea – some speculation is that he’s a government agent sent to spy on Don for unknown reasons, but he could just be an unscrupulous careerist looking to climb the ladder by psyching the partners out.
Two more episodes remain in this season, with speculation that the next season may be the last. My early predictions that Don Draper would die – or at least face death – seem to be less and less likely, but we’re definitely building to something. The question is what?