"Mad Men" Season 4, Episode 8 Review

9/14/2010 Posted by Admin

"Mad Men" Season 4, Episode 8 Review

By our guest blogger, Gita Gupte


"Mad Men" brought a lot to the table this week and served up a healthy dose of existential crisis. We literally got inside of Don Draper's head as the episode was narrated through his eyes and he begins keeping track of his demons via journal.

It is clear that the death of his closest friend, Anna, has left him seeking a meaningful existence, and he begins to take steps toward being healthier, both mentally and physically, by engaging in swimming and abstaining from heavy drinking. As Don vacates the haze which has engulfed him for most of his adult life, he begins to see life as it really is.  “ We realize the world isn’t perfect. We are flawed because we want so much more. We are ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.”

As Don starts to see what he has given up for a life without substance, he begins to seek out real relationships. In an attempt to capture what he once had with Betty, he continues to casually see Bethany, the sweet college girl who dreams of a life of perfection and chivalry. Don eventually realizes that Bethany is not for him: “She’s a sweet girl and wants me to get to know her. People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” He also is referencing his relationship with Betty in this musing, because he suffered the same pitfalls in chasing her – an empty dream.

Continuing on his path to redemption, Don asks out Faye on a proper date. Realizing he can’t find love in sex, he decides that he wants to get to know her first and thoughtfully takes her home instead of to his place.

On the road to clarity, Don and Betty both suffer growing pains. When they run into each other at a Manhattan restaurant, Betty is devastated and questions her marriage to Henry. When talking to her friend Francine she is told: “Don has nothing to lose and you have everything.” Realizing her own existence and what she has created for herself, Betty goes back to valuing her relationship with Henry and the fact that she has finally acquired the perfect life she always dreamed of. The next time she sees Don (at Gene’s second birthday party) the interaction is kind, but not frustrated. Betty is content with her life, albeit still with a twinge of pain for what her life with Don could have been.

As Henry continues to cut ties with Don, he asks Don to remove the last of his boxes from the garage. Don takes the time to go all the way to Ossining to collect his things, only to dump them in a dumpster outside his apartment. It is clear he is ready for a new life and can no longer dwell on the past and who he used to be.

If Don continues on this path of self-reclamation, I think the show will have done a brilliant job at developing his character and properly depicting the inner struggle of human beings that can be mollified over time by the experiences of life that can change you forever.

The only other characters really showcased in this episode were Joannie and Peggy. As Joan continues to grow more serious with the eminent departure of her husband, her coworkers retaliate by sexually harassing her with inappropriate comments and lewd drawings. Na├»ve Peggy thinks that firing Joey is the solution to the problem. Unfortunately for her, Joan points out: “I had handled the situation.  Now I’m just another meaningless secretary and you’re just another humorless bitch.”

I love reviewing this show because the characters are extremely well-developed and the writers do an amazing job at demonstrating how our personal lives can impact our professional lives – whether we like it or not.

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