Before the episode even starts, the previouslies promise me that I’ll get at least some development on the Don and Sally story line. Let’s do this!
Watching the partners’ conference call was hilarious and illuminating as the power hierarchy becomes ever more evident. I am somewhat amazed to find Cutler at the top of the power structure all alone unless I’m confused. It was fun watching everyone adjusting to their new normal of meeting via conference call. It’s clear that Pete is beginning to feel some of Ted’s despair despite being in sunny CA. The constraints of being tethered to the NY office where the power players are located have dulled the fun, shiny Pete we saw last episode. And Pete’s feeling more underappreciated than ever before. “There’s two offices. Yours is only slightly better than mine. What am I supposed to do? Work my way up to your office?” It’s too bad because I really enjoyed that Pete and was looking forward to watching him for a while. What Pete doesn’t understand is that it might not be any better if he was in NY. Roger might as well be in California for as much power as he is able to wield. With Don’s exit, the power shifted immediately, and, now, the only sure-footed partner is Cutler. Although Bert Cooper seems to approve of how everything is playing out.
I was glad to see that Don’s bedside table contained smokes only. No liquor bottle or glass. Glad to see he’s continuing to track his drinking. It’s critical to his resurrection and his ability to understand the reality of his situation. It’s obvious to everyone else that he’s not being welcomed back to SC&P anytime soon, if at all. It’s good to see him finally begin to explore his options. I enjoyed watching Don get some adulation, even from the cheeser from McCann Erickson, since it was really sad to watch him pass the hours aimlessly (although the Little Rascals were the best!!) before dressing up for Dawn’s visit. The eagerness and hunger on his face as she gave him the meager scraps of client information that she had was enough to make me almost forget how awful it was when he was top dog and living a double life. I definitely appreciated all the signs in the episode pointing to a Don looking to leave the duality (well, except for the name) and deception behind. I think this is why he looked at Sally with such surprise when she said, “Why don’t you just tell Megan you don’t want to move to California.” He can’t imagine things can be that straightforward and simple. And yes, I recognize the irony in suggesting that Don wants to leave the deception behind, as Don is still lying to Megan. And his honesty to Sally was forced upon him. So, small steps. I just felt that he wasn’t fighting the reveal like we’ve seen him do so many other times. It’s becoming much easier – (Dare I say natural? No, that’s going too far.) – for him to open up.
I’m surprised now by how much I didn’t think Sally would fit in at boarding school. I thought she would have a terrible time navigating the social land mines. But she’s been “raised” by the perfect two people to help her become exactly what she needs to be to deal with that chaos. And that line, “I’m so many people,” that she delivered when she and Don were in the restaurant was a perfect summation of that.
Watching Sally and Don repair their severely fractured relationship was the highlight of the episode for me. Both Hamm and Shipka are incredible in their scenes together. They always have been. You can watch Sally soften toward him as he tells her why he’s not working and why he lied about it. You can watch Don enjoy the opportunity to spend time with his daughter alone and appreciate how much she’s grown up and what a great job she’s doing of it all by herself. That final “I love you,” was believable and well-earned after the afternoon they had spent together. It was the perfect ending to the episode for me.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Dawn. I’ve enjoyed the glimpses we’ve been getting into her character. Watching her take up for herself when Lou blamed his inability to be human with a child on Dawn’s absence was cathartic. I hope I’ll get a chance to see Lou be annoyed or even angry by her promotion as long as it doesn’t affect her.
I was so gratified to see Joan move to accounts instead of having to shoulder that workload in addition to her former duties, just to have the opportunity to be an account “man”. It’s terrific to finally see some payoff where Joan is concerned.
Last and least is Lou. As I expected from last week, Lou is not a good guy. He’s mediocre at his job, and he’s a total pill on top of that. His whiny entitlement leads him to demand that Joan move Dawn somewhere else. Anywhere else. He wants his own “girl” because when he agreed to do this good deed of sharing Dawn with Don Draper (which he says with enough venom that it leads me to wonder if there is something more to explore there), he thought it would be correspondence and phone calls only. So, Lou is going to be fun to hate and will either be the catalyst that leads to Don’s return or to Peggy’s ascendance.