Monday, September 27, 2010

Calling Your Bluff

A couple of quick notes about the blog before I lay down my review of last night’s Mad Men episode, “Hands and Knees.” 

First, you will notice a new section at the top of the blog, entitled “Puddles of My Mad Men” (because it is of course my show).  This is where you can find all of my Season 4 recaps in one place as well as a somewhat brief recap I did of Season 3 last fall.  So, please enjoy all of that because it really is quite stellar writing.

Second, the blog will be back in full swing starting next Monday, October 4, 2010.  I have a couple of great things lined up for you all.  There are some surprises and new additions, some entertaining and inane podcasts, extreme amounts of vanity as well as a long-term plan whose wheels are in motion, which could not only alter the face of this blog but the face of the planet in general.  These are the things you come to this blog for, so, again, my Puddlers, please just sit back and enjoy this ride your on, which is called Puddles of Myself aka my fictionalized and embellished life, which is what we like to call the truth.


I’m not sure that I would ever make a good critic.  I enjoy the things that I enjoy almost too much and can’t speak about them without great amounts of praise, while simultaneously feeling the need to make the person I am speaking to or arguing against feel foolish for having the opinion of the object in question.  You could call this the Michael Jordan syndrome and it is usually the sign of a bad critic – although the trait does make the best basketball player, athlete and competitor of all time.  A good critic will stick to his opinions, will investigate an object, will allow for various view points, expand on them and entertain them and ultimately resolve that there is probably not one specific way to view an object but you should take his word that perhaps his view may be the most revealing.  Now, this all sounds fairly dry, but the thing about criticism is that when it is good it is written with a passion that belies its distance, but also strengthens it.  This is almost true of good fiction, except distance is essential and cannot be compromised as much as in criticism.

All of this being said, I enjoyed last night’s episode of Mad Men, which was entitled “Hands and Knees.”  It was not the best episode of the season or the series by far, but it did put pressure on the final three episodes.  This is not a pressure to deliver on expectations, but rather a dramatic pressure.  So much of this season has been focused on Don’s fall and his search for some way out, that an episode like “Hands and Knees” almost becomes essential in order to point the narrative towards its climax.  This would explain the fact that much of the criticism of last night’s episode is about how it felt like a soap opera, or to be more eloquent, that the action was not true to life, that the instances that all occurred in the span of time conveyed in last night’s episode would not all have occurred in the same span of time.  Now, this very well may be true, but the tool of dramatic irony – on full display in the conference room scene and the Betty Draper interview scene – have been used for centuries.  The conference scene was a perfect example of dramatic irony. Here you have a scene where pivotal characters in the show and in the agency are in the same room together, each one coming from a different vantage point; vantage points that each contain their own secrets and pieces of knowledge.  We as the audience are left to cringe at what we know and about what isn’t being revealed, every piece of acting becomes magnified because of the knowledge that the character has in relation to the knowledge that other characters don’t have, but we as the audience have – we make the scene even more dramatic than it inherently is.  So, perhaps the paperwork slipup that leads Don to sweat out G-Men hunting him down would not have actually happened in the same week as SCDP losing the Lucky Strike and perhaps Joan would not have found out she was pregnant at the same time that Lane Pryce has a clash with his visiting father – these are not things we can actually determine and they are maybe fruitless to critique and as Lee Garner Jr. says to Roger, “There’s nothing you can do.  Nothing you could do.  That’s just the way it is.”

This episode was obviously about the secrets that the characters must conceal just as the entire show is about the secret that Don conceals, which is an extreme, dramatic (in the best sense) example of the secrets we all conceal.  I wrote an ill-advised, amateurish novel during my senior year of college about friends who meet up during their last year of college only to realize how much each of them as changed and at the secrets that they each conceal from each other and have concealed.  I didn’t intend for the focus to be on the secrets, but my writing teacher, Steven Milhauser, informed me that that was where the drama lay, in the concealment of information. “All of your characters are friends,” he said to me, “yet they all conceal information from each other. And it seems that much of their relationship with each other has been based on concealed information.”  Since this novel was somewhat autobiographical (my influences being Joyce, Proust, Wolfe and Kerouac) I began to question the secrecy of my own life, and how much I kept from other people and from the world, which is to say that I kept a lot. I decided that no matter how honest I decided to be about myself and about the world in general, how much I would live honestly, that I would always be a concealer of information – this I because we are all concealers of information, our being, is always pointing to something else, pointing to an information or pieces of information that we contain, whether about ourselves, a topic, a romance, or another person.

Mad Men is about a “successful” man who is handsome but who conceals his identity from his wife and children, from his colleagues and from most of his lovers. This is a show about people who hide information about pregnancies, about whose children they have fathered, about having children, about whom they have slept with, about whom they have been raped by, about whom are gay.  What I enjoy about the show is about how these characters all attempt to continue to live their lives amid all this untruth, because sometimes to continue on in this world you have to lie about things, you have to lie to yourself.  Now, obviously, we always want to avoid the lying - we never want to lie so much to ourselves that we end up forgetting who we actually are.  In the end, lies will always catch up to us as they continue to do for Don.  We have to sacrifice great portions of ourselves in order to keep the lies afloat.  We can clearly see how much Don has suffered at his lies, what he has lost.  In the boardroom, we see the slight twinge of regret on his face when Roger lays into Pete for “losing” the North American Aviation account.  We see how much Joan has lost by lying about her affair with Roger, about having multiple abortions in order to cover up her affairs.  She has held a place for romance with a man who is tremendously quick with his wit and his postures of romance but who doesn’t recognize which tragedy Joan is talking about when she speaks to him after she has gone to perhaps have an abortion.  We see how much Lane has suffered and will suffer unless he goes back to London to see his family. He has perhaps been living a lie as an American and as a lover to his black girlfriend.  It is interesting to note that Pete comments to Trudy about how people who are liars get through life while the good people must suffer, even though he still carries the lie of his affair with Peggy and the fathering of the child she gave away.  Pete seems to want to come out of this situation, out of the boardroom as someone who is clean, but who really has hands that are as dirty as anyones. And, of course, Roger must lie about the Lucky Strike/American Tobacco account and its fate, only putting off what seems inevitable.  Although, we knew Lucky Strike was going to go this season one way or another.

All this being said, why then does the truth seem to pale in comparison to lies?  Don seems to be less attracted or to shy away from telling Faye the truth.  We want people to see the personas that we put up and not who we really are, but then we feel isolated when we realize how distant we are from them when we don’t tell the truth.  The truth is always more painful, which has been well documented, but it will save us in the end where the lies will destroy us.  Willie Stark in All The King’s Men said that “the end of man is to know.”  We always seem to want to know the truth but when we do, we hope for the lie, because the truth can’t be what it seems – it isn’t what we bargained for.  Then, how do we live honestly? How do we look for the truth? How do we accept the truth, when it is the lie that protects us, when it is the lie that pleases our eye?  These are questions I can’t answer for you in a review of Mad Men.  All I know is that once Don reveals his identity to Faye at the end of the episode, he first notices Megan, his new secretary, who apologizes to him for the paperwork issue and tells him that everything worked out.  Is that a lie that Don wants?  Or is it just a reminder of how thin the web of lies we all live in can be, that one slip of paperwork by a secretary can ruin even the longest-running and most concealed of secrets.  What does that say about us in general and the secrets that we keep from each other?  Perhaps as Lee Garner Jr. says, “There is nothing you can do.  Nothing you could do. That’s just the way it is.”

There’s one secret I won’t keep: Joan is still pregnant.

Three more episodes left.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's a Woman's World

I once wrote on this blog that women were taking over my life. I suppose that I am not really qualified to make that statement and it would seem rather pathetic to say that again after watching an episode of Mad Men, but this blog has never shied away from seeming pathetic, as that comes with all the raging glory and epiphany of life anyway.  So, last night, for an hour, women did take over my life.

“The Beautiful Girls” was a truly fascinating entry into the Mad Men series.  I can’t remember any of the other seasons presenting a truly challenging episode from week to week. Obviously, I love the show and think it is TV of the highest level and has exhibited this in each season, but after every episode this year I have asked myself, “Well, how the hell am I going to make sense of this one?” And maybe its because this episode was about women - and it seems like it will be my (and many other men’s) ongoing journey in life to try to understand them – but this episode left me really puzzled on how to draw some meaning out of it.

Many of the other reviews I have read have clearly focused on the different ways that Dr. Miller, Joan and Peggy represent the women of the time.  All three have different levels of commitment to their careers and all are in danger of dying in the office like Ms. Blankenship did during the episode.  Joan is a woman who’s career is forced to take center stage because her husband has become a failure and is forced to go to Vietnam because of his career decision, a decision he didn’t consult her for.  Roger is the one person she is close to and he is her co-worker/superior.  Peggy is clearly very career driven but also feels the social pressure of finding someone to love before she becomes too old, as Trudy painfully reminded her in “The Suitcase.” She is very open-minded and accepting of the changes that are occuring in the world, whether in the business world or the larger realm of world news and civilization.  However, she encounters men like Abe who claim to be open-minded and part of the youth culture, but who still don’t take into account the rights of women and how their roles are in many ways just as segregated and looked down upon as those of minorities, especially black people at the time. So she seems to have her choice of a man like Duck who is failure of epic proportions and belongs to a different generation; she has a naïve boyfriend like Mark who wants her to be a feminine ideal of a virgin who loves her family; and now she has a guy like Abe who wants her to be open-minded to new ideas, but to still go and make him a drink and tell him how smart he is with his writing.  Dr. Miller is another career woman who has been even more successful than Peggy. She is as devoted to her job as Don is, which has left her without the ability to cook as we found out in her phone conversation last week, as well as without children or any skills with them as her interactions with Sally proved this week. Yet, in two different moments of crisis Don puts her on the spot to try and handle Sally, because that is what Betty would do; that is what the woman should do because she is a woman and is supposed to be good at those kind of things.

Now, these are all fine observations and they are certainly in the episode.  Each of the women get their chance to exhibit their frustrations and this is all nicely framed by the death of Mrs. Blankenship in the middle of the work day.  All the women in the office cry as they have lost one of their own (and of course because it is upsetting), but it esepcially hits home for Joan as she is somewhat of a glorified, younger Mrs. Blankenship (Roger even kids her about this before they are mugged) and her life very well could pass her by in the office.  I think all the women realize this in the episode in one way or another, as well as how much the men in their lives need them in some way, but can’t fully give them credit or the respect they deserve, which leads to that last shot of Dr. Miller, Peggy and Joan standing in the elevator looking completely worn out and desperate for some kind of answer or happiness.

What really gets us to that shot though, is a question that Peggy’s lesbian friend Joyce asks her when she’s in Peggy’s office.  That question is,“Are you angry or love sick?” to which Peggy responds, “I don’t know.”  That is the emotion that all three of these women are going through.  That are all feeling something profound.  They don’t know whether to be angry at the men in their lives or to feel that impalpable sensation, bordering on melancholy that we call love-sickness, which is truly just a feeling of “wanting.”  These women all want something but it does not fall under the category of “love-sickness.”  Each of them has a right to be mad at the men in their life. Joan can certainly be angry at Greg for the life he has given her, for raping her and taking advantage of her and for overall not treating her as a partner, which is perfectly exemplified by him making the decision to enlist in the army without even consulting her – news that surprises Roger when he and Joan have dinner.  Joan can also be upset at Roger for pushing her to comprimise her morals and vision of herself as a married woman.  She tells Roger that she doesn’t regret them having sex after they were robbed, but that she’s married. Roger prods her about still feeling something and Joan can only close the door.  Is she feeling love-sick for a possible true romance with Roger at the end of the episode?  Probably not, she is probably just frustrated that her own husband may be killed in Vietnam and that he didn’t respect her and that she can only find solace at work, where the closest person to her still holds delusional visions of romance.

Dr. Miller can certainly be upset at Don for putting her on the spot, even if he didn’t mean to test her skills with children.  Don’s behavior with Faye and in this episode throughout shows how much men at the time and even now will always need women. When Mrs. Blankenship dies, Don doesn’t know what to do, he just wants to go back into the meeting.  However, Joan needs the strength of a man to life Mrs. Blankenship’s body.  When Sally needs to be taken home, Don has to have Faye do it.  When Sally throws a tantrum, Don expects Faye to know how to handle it, but she doesn’t.  That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with Faye, that is just a skill she didn’t develop – she made her decisions in life and shouldn’t be blamed for them.  Now, it will always be alright for men to rely on women, just as it should always be alright for women to rely on men, what it comes down to is what we expect out of each other.  We should not expect things out of one or the other based merely on gender (although biology does factor in in some part), but on who we are as humans and what we have experienced.  Now whether or not Don could have stumbled across that thought after Dr. Miller leaves his office and he sips her drink, is up in the air – but that would certainly be a step forward in the formation of their relationship.

Peggy of course is constantly wanting.  She wants success; she wants to be married; she wants her baby back in some way. She is the one who expresses that she doesn’t know how she feels so naturally her story truly exemplifies that sentiment.  She is frustrated that her drive leaves her from just being able to accept being a woman and caretaker, but she is also angry that the men in her life can never seem to appreciate her for who she really is – the only person that seemed to be able to in his own strange way was Pete, but she could never be with him if she wanted to be the person she wanted to be.  So, Peggy is left love-sick for a romance or relationship that will have to force her to question her ambition or to continue to forge ahead to find that person who can fit into her life, can appreciate her drive and ambition.

And of course, there is the daughter of another generation in Sally. Sally who is desperately in love with Don, but already knows how to speak her own mind.  She has seen her mother get what she wants in the past and knows how to work Don into giving her pizza and bring her to the zoo for a  morning trip that lasts well into the afternoon.  Sally takes on so many different postures of a woman in this episode that it is truly fascinating.  She wakes up and makes Don breakfast with her hair tangled like a lover or a wife; she tells him she needs to see him like a mistress; she tells him how much she loves him like an adoring daughter;  she mutters “oh” like a jilted admirer when he tells her she will be seeing Faye again; and she throws a tantrum like the child she actually is when she realizes that she can take on so many postures, but she can’t control her own situation – it is up to the adults, it is up to the man in her life, which will never be Henry, but always Don. 

There is a lot to be said of how Sally loves Don and how Don tries to convey his love for her but never truly can.  He strokes her hair aside and kisses her on the forehead, but when she starts expressing her deep desire to leave home he can only tell her to go to sleep.  This all leads to Sally falling in the hallway and Meghan picking her up and hugging her. The posture and embrace come so naturally for Meghan that it is almost jarring.  This is not to suggest that she is the woman Sally needs or that Don needs, but she just throws into relief how much Sally is missing that pure connection and love in her life.  In the past Don has shown her a great deal of affection, but we never get that moving moment like Don and Bobby had in “Gypsy and the Hobo” when Don wakes Bobby up in the middle of the night to hug him and tell him that he’ll “never lie” to him.  We are far removed from that era of the Drapers and Sally is missing that kind of attention and love, certainly from Betty, but especially from Don who she loves to a degree that is so great that it could be some form of  love-sickness, which leads to her anger.  Sally tells Meghan at the end that its not going to be alright.  And perhaps as all these women ride down the elevator at the end of the episode, struggling with the heat of anger or love-sickness, containing intelligence and strength in each of their own ways, that is the question we have to ask each of them and ourselves for the women in our lives: Is it going to be alright?

Four more episodes left.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Suitcase for Summer

When I take a spur of the moment vacation to remote parts of Vermont and Maine, the bonus that all you Puddlers receive is an extra-special, double episode review of Mad Men.  I will make up for a week of silence by combining reviews of the episodes, “The Suitcase” and “The Summer Man.” In a way, I am glad to be writing about both of these episodes at the same time as they showcase the two different sides of Mad Men episode delivery as well as serve as key back-to-back statements on the state of Don Draper at the current moment in time.  I, like most people, was completely on edge to see how Don Draper would follow up on the personal revelations and experiences he went through with Peggy in “The Suitcase” in “The Summer Man,” so I suppose its only fitting that I get to write about his cathartic night as well as the immediate (for Mad Men) aftermath.

“The Suitcase” has already been widely regarded as the best episode in Mad Men history.  This is funny to me, because many of the early episodes of this season seemed to stake that claim.  However, “The Suitcase” was a coup in so many ways that it was impossible to say that any other episode of the show even came remotely close to the storytelling, drama, precision and overall excellence of that episode.  Much has already been written about this episode and I was so engrossed by it that I read the more Mad Men commentary about “The Suitcase” than I did about any other episode.  I did this mainly because it had such a profound effect on me when I finally was able to watch it that I wanted to make sure that I didn’t completely copy what other people had written about it.  Yet, it remains difficult not to mention the main themes and touchstones of the episode.

Clearly, the relationship between Don and Peggy has been one of the centers of the show.  It’s hard to discount many of the important character relationships and interactions on Mad Men, but over time, we have seen just how vital and important the relationship between Peggy and Don is to the overall themes of the show as a whole.  Their first key interaction comes in the pilot episode where Peggy, after being cajoled by her co-workers into thinking that it is duty to sleep with Don since she is his secretary, grabs Don’s hand in a gesture leading towards sexuality.  Don responds by telling her that he is her boss and not her boyfriend, firmly establishing his rules in relation to his secretaries as well as how Mad Men plays with the work and home environments; who you are at work and who you are at home are drastically different identities and often the politics and the language of that work identity can seep into the identity of who you are outside of work – that is, business can seem personal.  Peggy and Don have navigated these waters before, mainly throughout Season 3 and most notably in “Shut the Door, Have a Seat.”  In that episode Don must confront the fact that he has not been fair to Peggy because he views her as an extension of himself and quite literally, what should have been about business and the quality of ideas that another person was bringing him, became personal to Don as he related Peggy with any shortcomings or frustrations he had with himself. In the end of his conversation with Peggy, he states that he will spend the rest of his life trying to get her to join his new firm because he acknowledges the similarity they share in perhaps my favorite line in the entire show:
“There are people out there who buy things. People like you and me. Then something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves... is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that's very valuable.”

That is, it was my favorite line and moment until “The Suitcase.”  As Season 4 has gone on and Don has become drunker and drunker, he has fallen back into the pattern of lashing out at Peggy. However, the change this season has been that that Peggy now feels the confidence to talk back to Don and correct him as she did over the mistake he made with Danny’s tag-line in “Waldorf Stories.”  In “The Suitcase,” Don is on Peggy’s back for a new campaign for Samsonite suitcases.  Don is clearly still drinking very much at work and at the end of the work day before the Clay vs. Liston fight, which happens to be Peggy’s birthday, he calls her into his office to go over the work she has done for Samsonite.  After shooting down all of Peggy’s ideas, he makes her stay late to stand up her fiancée, which eventually leads to Mark breaking up with her over the phone.

This brings us to the big confrontation when Peggy expresses her anger at Don for not giving her credit for the Glo-Coat ad she believes she was responsible for.  Peggy’s confrontation leads to this exchange:

Don: That’s the way this works.  I give you money, you give me ideas.
Peggy: But you never say, thank you.
Don: That’s what the money’s for!

This is perhaps the quintessential statement about work, which is to say that it’s the quintessential statement about Mad Men.  Young, ambitious people want it all when they start working, not realizing that they are actually working for someone else.  We come from years of school where there is no real “boss,” we work for ourselves and to achieve the grades that we deserve.  When you work, there is a boss who gives you money for the work you do – you work and spend your time to make someone else look good; that’s their job, that’s what they get for the time they have put in over the years.  It’s a hierarchy that people often forget and it may seem antiquated and can be exploited at times, but that’s what happens to all hierarchies in the hands of the wrong people, but that’s the way it works.

Now, bosses can obviously show appreciation, but Don has a history of not “valuing” relationships as Roger once said.  Here, Don shows that he does value relationships as he did in “Shut the Door, Have a Seat.”  He shows Peggy how he values her, how they actually value each other through the night that they spend together in the office, at the diner, in the bar and at the office again.  They exchange intimate details, sometimes directly, sometimes skirting around the subject such as how their fathers died, where they came from, and relationship issues.  They even hint at how much they actually know about each other by referencing Don sleeping with Alison and Peggy giving away her baby. “People do things, right?” Don says to Peggy.  It’s like a strange Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus moment for the two characters.  They are like souls who connect on this specific day and allow themselves to open up. It turns out that there is a bit of a cosmic significance as we find out that Anna Draper has died in California, leaving Don feeling very much “alone” (I personally didn’t mind the ghost of Anna appearing as a hazy middle of the nigh image, but I know some people did). Don realizes that he isn’t alone as Peggy comes over, places her hand gently on his back in some mystic moment of healing, and tells him that Anna wasn’t the only person that really knew him.  The episode ends (now famously) with Don holding Peggy’ hand over a new ad campaign idea.  Peggy looks at him once, her hair tousled from sleeping in the office, her skin pure and clear and soft and looks absolutely beautiful in the morning light, the most beautiful that she ever has on the show.  She looks at him once with her piercing green eyes, then once more, almost muttering, “I know,” before asking Don if he wants to leave the door open, to which Don responds that he does.

On that note, the viewer wants to know if Don’s life will be more open, if he will stick to what seems to be a new approach to life.  In “The Suitcase” Don saw a drunken Duck stumbling around the office and could almost see where he was heading in many ways.  Peggy also asks him at once point how much longer he can keep up his drinking. As “The Summer Man” begins, the viewer is greeted with a shot of Don swimming at a pool club.  He becomes exhausted after one lap and we get a voice over narration, which is Don keeping a diary.  Don is trying to get himself organized and into shape.  He admits he has a drinking problem and soon, in a rare licensing moment, “Satisfaction” is playing as Don surveys the streets of New York and takes a pull of cigarette, thinking about how he can smell corn and summer before confidently walking to the office.

Where “The Suitcase” was classic Mad Men, putting two characters in a pressurized situation with pointed dialogue and thorough references to the history of the two characters and the show as a whole, “The Summer Man” is experimental.  There is the voice over, the beginning story telling is slightly disjointed, we hear “Satisfaction,” there are camera tricks played when Don takes a drink at work and feels himself removed from the world.  This is meant to jar the viewer.  Don is making a change, and when we make changes, often we need something drastic or out of our comfort zone to do it, Don admits as much when he confesses to feeling like a little girl writing his journal.  And Don is slowly grabbing the world around him and learning how to place himself in it.

It is a complicated episode that has a lot to do with feeling satisfied.  Does Betty feel satisfied in her new life? She has thought so, until she sees Don on a date with Bethany and can barely breathe. She is so angry at him that it takes Francine telling her how much she has to realize that she should be satisfied with her new marriage, with her children, with all that she has.  However, we leave Betty at the end of this episode, looking longingly at Don and perhaps she is still not satisfied.  Is Henry satisfied? He has the beautiful wife he wanted, much like Don did, however he is slowly realizing that she is a child and that perhaps she still loves Don in some way.  He even says that they may have rushed into their marriage.  In many ways, Henry isn’t satisfied with himself or the position he is in as he makes a weak power play in having Don remove his things from their home on the day before Gene’s birthday.  He does not feel confident and wants to keep Don away.  Can he feel satisfied with his little act of mowing the lawn while stacking Don’s boxes on the curb without acknowledging him?

Joan and Peggy are also looking for satisfaction.  Joan is receiving less and less respect in the office, perhaps less than she even had at Sterling Cooper.  The rules of the world are changing and Joan can’t use her sexuality to get things done behind the scenes.  She has a legitimate office position and the young guys at the firm don’t respect her. But, they don’t respect women at all, as Joey plainly points out when he tells Peggy he doesn’t like working with women because they have no sense of humor.  Peggy isn’t satisfied with this as an apology from Joey or a justification for his actions towards Joan and the pornographic picture he drew of her and Layne.  So, Peggy fires him after she receives encouragement from Don who seems to be keeping up his new approach to treating her right after their night together.  However, Joan is not satisfied with this result as it only perpetuates the polarizing views that men had of women either being objects or humorless bitches.  Joan overall is the least satisfied character.  Her husband is leaving, she has no one to connect to at work and her overall vision of the world seems to have failed her.  She is definitely in a tight corner.

Don, however, receives satisfaction in a couple of ways.  Bethany pleasures him after their date in the back of the cab and he is able to get the date with Dr. Miller that he is looking for. Dr. Miller is even willing to go home with him.  However, Don instead of reaching for “what should satisfy him” is trying to figure out what actually satisfies him and very often that can mean not sleeping with someone if you have the chance; not doing something just because you can, but because you actually want to.  Dr. Miller, whose talent is being able to read people and anticipate what they want or what they will do (much like Don) is surprised by this, which only furthers the theme of the show that she and Don have vocalized of “what I want and what is expected of me.” This theory is being actualized and shown to us in many different interactions and ways this season and if Don and Dr. Miller continue the relationship that may be starting between them, we will obviously see this idea pushed even further and further forward.

There is a lot coming in the next few episodes.  I have not even mentioned how Don seems slightly behind trends like Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali as cultural icons and pitchmen, how Pete seems to still be forward thinking, how Roger’s memoirs are becoming a symbol for how disconnected and lost he is, how Peggy is going to figure out to gain the respect she wants now that she has cleared the air with Don and cemented a huge part of her identity.  And what will become of Betty Draper?  With a slight of hand, Weiner suddenly made her a very interesting character again this week. This season has not disappointed and I think will be the most rewarding yet, and if not, it will at least make us try to see who really knows us – and maybe think about how valuable that is.