There’s character development and then there’s ‘Mad Men.’ Do any characters on any other show get as thoroughly explored as the characters on this show?
Sunday night’s episode – titled “The Summer Man,” the eighth episode of the ongoing fourth season – was a case in point. The episode was actually narrated (at least in part) by Don Draper (Jon Hamm), giving us a very revealing glimpse into his psyche. He himself seems to have entered a period of introspection and he took us along for the ride. To get his head on straight, we learned that he has taken up swimming at the New York Athletic Club, journal-writing (which, he said in one of his voiceovers, made him feel like a girl writing “Dear Diary” entries every night) and, most importantly, cut back on the booze (though he didn’t eliminate it entirely from his life).
We watched him on a dinner date with the lovely Bethany Van Nuys (Anna Camp), during which they ran into ex-wife Betty (January Jones) and her husband, Henry Francis. After the date, Bethany – to Don’s surprise – performed a sexual act on him in the back seat of a cab, leading this consummate ladies’ man to marvel at the ways of women, even making a private observation – in voiceover again – about the intimate activities of the single women who lived at the Barbizon Hotel, the show’s second allusion to masturbation this season.
While we were absorbing the private thoughts of Don Draper, we were also seeing a side of Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) that we had not seen previously. Hey, we all knew there was something tough about Joanie, but the conversation she had with Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) in the elevator near the episode’s end, was downright harrowing in its coldness. Peggy had rightfully fired the obnoxious copywriter Joey (Matt Long) because of his harassment of Joan, but Joan felt Peggy had all kinds of other motives for dismissing him. Joan was so far off the mark that she seemed deranged.
Speaking of deranged, it was great to see Betty back in the picture, now having doubts about current husband Henry Francis and gazing wonderingly at Don in the show’s final sequence at her house. We’ve had a show on TV called ‘Ugly Betty.’ What about a spinoff of ‘Mad Men’ called ‘Angry Betty’? Who wouldn’t want to watch that?
The most intriguing plot point had to be Don’s budding romance (or is it just another fling?) with the self-confident demographer Faye Miller (Cara Buono). In a neat twist, she – not he – was the aggressor following their Greenwich Village dinner date.
‘Mad Men’ continues to amaze. We hate the fact that there are only 13 episodes per season because we hate it when a ‘Mad Men’ season ends. What did you think of Sunday’s episode?