So what are the repercussions?

 Posted by on March 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm  Actors & Crew, Characters, Season 2
Mar 152009
 

One final Jon Hamm Birthday Week® post about Don Draper.

Last night I had dinner with a group of folks I went to high school with. Well, I came really late and didn’t eat, but whatever. We’ve been doing this a few times a year for the last few years, and mostly I don’t remember anyone so it’s like I’m hanging out with a few people I know, and a few new friends with whom I have some things in common and they look kind of familiar and they are my age.

(Jules, the former category includes Julie. YES now I know!)

I was talking with this one guy (in the latter category) about Mad Men. He says at his work they have an ongoing heated debate about the end of Season Two.

Basically, he is troubled by the fact that Don gets away with it all. Both in the office (he just disappeared for what seemed like at least weeks) and somehow, ethically. Where is the backlash?

Now, I have a lot of thoughts, but I prefer to open it up to the floor. What do the Basketcases think? Will it all come back to bite him in the ass? Should it? Or has he suffered enough?

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  34 Responses to “So what are the repercussions?”

  1. Gets away with "it"? At work, they clearly have different rules for the senior men. Don, when he returns, references Roger having done worse. And Don clearly believed there would be no repercussions, based on the way he strolled in and asked for his mail. If you think there's a chance of the shit hitting the fan, you see the boss first, or you phone, or you just don't return.

    At work, I don't think he did anything unethical. It's not unethical to disappear, it's just shitty.

    At home, what? He was kicked out, he lived in a hotel. A troubled marriage goes through shit, he was unfaithful, she pushed him to admit it, they are going to try to make it work. And this was Betty's decision, really. I mean, the only "repercussion" I see to infidelity beyond what he's already faced is divorce. And that doesn't just punish Don, it also has impact on Betty. They mutually enjoy or suffer any repercussions, and she chose the one she hated least, given the pregnancy.

    Or do you mean the identity theft? The people he truly wounded by stealing Don Draper's name and dog tags were Anna Draper, whom he's surely repaid, and Adam Whitman, who is beyond saving, but whose death will haunt Don forever.

  2. Oh, he hasn't suffered enough by far. Of course, it'll all come back to bite him in the ass. First, because trouble is much richer, story-wise. And second, because that's usually the way things work in real life anyway. I mean, think about it. If he and Betty end up living happily ever after Season 3 is gonna be a snooze. Can you imagine MW going for a big snoozefest?

  3. Doesn't just get away with "it," gets away with everything.

    Without even dipping into the whole stolen identity thing:

    When the show opened, he didn't just have dalliances or mistresses, he had 2.5 parallel lives. He had two pretty serious relationships in addition to his marriage.

    Then he had an affair with someone who was effectively a major client's wife. The client pretty much found out and caught him red-handed (after he wrecked a car with the woman and was bailed out by a co-worker.) He ended up living in the office for awhile….until he ran off to California and had a week or so that was worthy of a Kerouac or Michener novel.

    He treats his wife like *dirt*. I think it goes beyond the traditional "man wears pants in the family and wife is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" that one might expect in the 'burbs in 1960. He's pretty abusive in a very subtle and scary way. I think he treats Peggy with a bit more respect, which puzzles me. (But I digress.)

    Frankly, the fact that he disappeared from the job and office without any explanation bothers me the least. He's obviously one of, it not the most important person in the agency and works his ass off when he's there. That buys you some slack in most offices.

    But as far as karma goes, I think he's got a major boot to the head comin'. Of course, I felt that way about Tony Soprano too….and all I got was a Members Only jacket and a lame Journey song that will be running through my head for the rest of the day now that I brought it up.

  4. It will come back to bite him in the buttocks.

    Just when it happens is what is open to debate.

    I hate how he treats Betty but I am more interested in how Betty will be acting in Series 3.

  5. It's not uncommon for the "talent" to get a lot of slack at work. And Don picked a lucky moment, too — the period of the S-C merger. Though his share of S-C is small, Cooper's sister might have been influenced by him, and Roger knows it, so best not to land on him like a ton of bricks. Whether there will be further repercussions at work remains to be seen in S3.

    On the personal front, Don pretty much had to own up to his cheating. Betty is not asking for a divorce (yet), but as discussed at the time, the pregnancy robs him of any sense that she's staying married purely on Don's merits. And one gets no sense that Betty will be a bundle of joy going forward.

  6. He didn't pay because the audience still likes him in some way…he's the main attraction so he has to be somewhat redeemable. The only person who will uncover his secrets and be hurt the most is Betty, in the end. Her life will be one big lie, but I'm sure we'll all still feel sorry for Don/Dick in some way.

  7. Charm and gorgeousness, not to mention talent, will allow you to get away with a lot. In art and in life.

    I'm also more interested in Betty than in Don at this point. Not that I don't love looking at Don, that magnificent bastard.

  8. Actually, for Betty to "almost" leave him in Season 1, and for him to actually realise the effect of his behaviour on those he loves, is a pretty obvious sign that he's felt the repercussions. Of course, Don's a manipulator by nature, so we can't expect him to play by the rules for long, but I say he's done a surprising amount of suffering for his sins – especially if you compare him to most of his real-life counterparts, who very rarely seem to be impacted by the effects of their behaviours. Oh, they may take dings to their love lives and portfolios, but most of the RL narcissists are so confident in their belief that THEY are right and in complete control of the rest of the world, that any setbacks rarely have a lasting impact on their personality or actions. :/

  9. Isn't he paying for it? I'm sure he is. He's a sad, miserable fuck (but apparently a very decent lay, ;-) heh), who has trouble even coming up with three things that he likes in life. He has no friends and no one to confide in. Yes, he has Betty, but sometimes she just doesn't get it. People rely on him for everything, but who's his crutch? Would any of us trade places with him? I wouldn't.

  10. Maybe his extended vacation bit him in the butt when Betty told him she's pregnant. Back to reality. I can't wait to see how Season 3 pans out.

  11. I imagine being married to a pregnant woman who knows you've cheated on her repeatedly is no picnic. :) I hope they don't do another time jump and we begin Season 3 after Betty's had the baby.

    As far as work goes, his disappearance seems like a perk of being successful and valuable to the office. An exagerrated version of coming in hung over at noon.

    Don does suffer. He knows he doesn't make his wife happy, and I think that bothers him. He knows Betty deserves more, but he doesn't quite have what it takes to make the changes necessary, but he seems to try. Occasionally.

  12. Don knows he screwed up in his pesonal life. With Anna, he said as much. His contrite return east, his confession to Betty, and his letter to her demonstrate his regret and knowledge of what he has done. Unless he is a complete sociopath however…. When Don reaches for Betty's hand in the final scene, we see that he has accepted his consequences: Reconciliation was not due to his love for Betty but the convenience to Betty that he represents.

    His absense was tolerated at the office because both Cooper and Sterling know that without Don Draper they have no firm. He doesn't have a contract because all parites know who has the upper hand. This was brought home in the final episode with all the subtilty of a sledgehammer- Duck is expendible, Don isn't.

  13. Lots of interesting comments here. I would like to add that since Don is a partner, even though a junior partner, he has a different relationship to the business than any of the employees. In fact, he along with Bert, Roger and Alice, employ everyone else at Sterling Cooper. This I think was a major cause of Duck's resentment toward Don, along with Duck's inability to understand or acknowledge the importance of creativity.

    As a partner, Don has a greater responsibility to the business than an employee, but a responsibility of a different nature. He doesn't need to punch a time-clock, but he has to make sure that everything will work. Recognizing that Pete would carry the meetings in California on his own and not screw up is part of Don's talent. He knew Pete wouldn't screw it up because he knew Pete would recognize the circumstances as an opportunity to prove his own importance and hopefully advance.

    So Don didn't suffer any consequences at work, because, in his own way, he handled it.

    His marriage, however, is a different thing…

  14. “I’m also more interested in Betty than in Don at this point. Not that I don’t love looking at Don, that magnificent bastard.”

    Yeah in season 2 she became more of a main focal point to rival Don, I wonder if that was accidental…if it was a lesser actress then I don’t think that would’ve happened.

  15. I wonder if your aquaintance might have a case of Don-envy. In my book he suffered a lot in Season 2, living in a hotel, not really seeing his kids, being separated from Betty, it was all really unpleasant. As for the work stuff, as had been said, he was a partner, and what he did didn't break whatever contract he had.
    I differ a bit from the view that he knew Pete would handle CA. I think he really acted on impulse, and didn't even plan when or if he would return to SC. He just said to Pete that he knew he would handle it as an after-the-fact cover story.

  16. Getting away with it has consequences too. Pete hasn’t given up on discovering what Don’s past is. He may try to find out what happened in California. Don is back together with Betty, but he knows she knows about the affairs.

    Don’s relationship with Peggy is an office relationship, which is different than a social relationship. Remember, Joan said in the pilot that Don has always dated outside of the office. He keeps work and play seperated. Bobbi must have been a one-time lapse.

  17. I’m not sure he’s gotten away with anything. By the end of Season 2, he’d had several adventures and then went home to Betty. Her pregnancy traps them both. They may have wanted to get back together (at least he seemed to) but the prospect of another child (for them) just adds to the angst. I don’t feel like speculating on what the future seasons will bring. But I don’t think Don’s “getting away with it” and what’s more, I don’t think he thinks he’s getting away with anything. He’s a guy. Men compartmentalize. Work. Home. Sex. Golf. Money. Etc. That’s how they seem to be getting away with stuff, but it’s really that they’re not dwelling on it.

  18. I agree with Elena. Don told Pete that he was giving him a chance to go it alone in California as an after-the-fact because Don knows that Pete looks to him for ego stroking, and once having gotten it, will retreat back into his little Pete-world.

    As for Don getting away with it, “it” is very general. If “it” is cheating, Betty found out and confronted him; and instead of being quietly amazed that Betty is the one person in his world to not buy his BS (when he himself falls victim to it) his head is so far up his buttocks he can taste yesterday’s dinner.

  19. Hmm, this is an interesting thread. I never thought that he got away with anything. He is mentally tormenting himself and that can be the worst punishment of all. I don't want season 3 to be about him being "punished" for his actions.

  20. Does this mean that Don will be running Sterling Cooper in Season 3? What will happen to Roger and Cooper? Will their characters remain on the show?

    Another matter I want to bring up is . . . when it comes to business, will Don continue to live in the past or remain complacent about the present? Or will he start learning how to cast his eyes upon the future, like Pete and Duck seem able to?

  21. Well at work Don definitely got away with it. It was not moral that he up a leave a business paid trip and neglect his duties for several weeks. Duck's anger was justified. And considering how he affected the merger after he came back it is fair to say that SC would have lost some valuable clients had his absence continued.

    Regarding his relationship with Betty, it is more complicated. The first two episodes of S2 demonstrate that Don's cheating is a symptom, not a cause of what is wrong in their marriage. They do not communicate, more often than not and yes Don's behavior is emotionally abusive. Worse than the cheating he does not listen to Betty, or try and talk to her. As painful as it was to watch Betty punish Bobby for Don's misdeeds you kind of have to agree that he id not holding his role in parenting. (Also when Don finally tries to be available to Betty I kind of love how she burns him each time. Betty got some of the best burns.)

    Having another baby does cut off this being a romantic reunion, but it might force them to address where things are really wrong.

  22. Don is ahead of his time when it comes to women in the office. He doesn’t see Peggy as a woman, he sees her as a co-worker. Any difference between the way he treats Peggy and the way he treats Pete is based on talent, not gender.

    I'm not talking about how he treats Peggy or Pete. I'm talking about how he views business. Talented as he is, Don tends to stick with things that work instead of consider the future for new ideas.

    I realize that the grab for the American Airlines account had failed . . . but it failed for reasons that was not the fault of anyone at Sterling Cooper. Duck had the bad luck to have a contact who ended up getting fired. But Sterling Cooper was right to make a bid for AA as a client. One has to take chances or try something new, regardless of whether it will work or not. Don did not want to recruit American Airlines as a client. He wanted things to remain the way they were with Mohawk. Now many might say that he was right, considering what happened. But I don't think so.

    The only time Don is willing to take chances is either when he doesn't have a choice, or when he is in a desperate situation. When will he learn to take chances because it is good business and it might allow Sterling Cooper to survive in the future?

  23. Don is ahead of his time when it comes to women in the office. He doesn’t see Peggy as a woman, he sees her as a co-worker. Any difference between the way he treats Peggy and the way he treats Pete is based on talent, not gender.

    I also agree with Elena. Many articles have commented on the fact that some modern men find Draper’s life attractive. His kind of life is a common male fantasy.

  24. I think that I side with Jules on this.

    Don does get away with things. Like many attractive people, he seems to have developed an ability to judge exactly how much he can get away with, and for how long. But at least he recognizes that in each setting, there is a price to be paid.

    He has to return to Betty first — not at their shared home, but on her literal turf — and apologize to her, in so many words. He has to return to the office and admit to his absence (and to the fact that more than a few people have covered for him). He has to do a bit of damage control.

    Don misses his children terribly and wants to see them again … but because Betty has been hurt worst, he has to see them on her terms. So he does.

    But Don does not suffer. He stays in what looks like a nice hotel. In his absence from work, he’s become idiotically wealthy. He has the usual Don Draper choices. The only one that’s really missing is the only one he seems to want: to go home, to Betty and the kids.

    I would argue that today, things are not much different. Look at AIG just decided to to. That was head-spinningly irresponsible — and completely everyday business, for those guys.

    You want personal? The former director of my department, who has since left the company, was a guy who took every Friday off. He was a married man who never made a comment to me that was not in some way sexual. Once, the guy took a week and a half off — no warning, no apology. He was mad at someone in senior management. He came back to work on a Tuesday morning as if nothing had happened. I don’t know if there were any negative repercussions for him; it seemed there were not.

    On this guy’s last day as leader of my team, just before he left for his goodbye party, he told me that I’d hurt his feelings by telling him how he could not treat me. But then he tried to apologize, in his own twisted way. “I never stopped loving you.” This, with the door wide open.

    I work in healthcare, and things are different here. It’s better after a shakeup late last year, but you can still say one thing and do another — at least if you’re a VP.

    I had to attend the all-managers’ conference at a resort last year, as a writer. It was shocking; the word Tailhook came to mind. Of the dozens of investigations launched, only a handful of people were disciplined. I’ll leave it to you to guess how hard their wrists were slapped.

    My employer — perhaps the whole industry — resembles what I remember of investment management in the early years of this century. Even now, there’s a feeling of invulnerability. High producers are both rewarded and protected. And while a day of reckoning will come, probably in the form of universal healthcare, it won’t be tomorrow, or the next day.

    At least Don knows he has to tend his own nest. Some people I know don’t even do that.

  25. Well, Don did take two big chances in MIAE: uncharacteristic chances, one even romantic.

    Don took a huge chance with Betty, writing her a letter in which he exposed a vulnerable side (“… I’ll be alone forever”), and offering her what he thought was a true choice (“you won’t be alone for long”). He has shown a jealous, possessive side with her in the past. This was a big step for him.

    And in leaving the table (and the meeting) at S-C, Don placed his own priorities — home, family — over those of his partners, old and new. He abdicated control over everything that happened after that point. For all he knew, he was out of a job.

    I think he took the former of these two chances because he realized how badly he wanted Betty and the kids back, and he knew that only the grand gesture could help him get there. And he took the latter chance because, for the first time, he truly didn’t care whether he ended up on solid ground at S-C or not.

    I think Don left that office thinking he might just restore old cars for a while. Or not. Whatever he’s thinking, he knows where home is … at least for now.

  26. ::smacks head::

    Nice bookends. The season opens with For Those Who Think Young, which ends with Don’s voice reading Meditations in an Emergency. And the season ends with Meditations in an Emergency, which, near the end, includes Don’s voice reading that letter.

  27. Nice bookends. The season opens with For Those Who Think Young, which ends with Don’s voice reading Meditations in an Emergency. And the season ends with Meditations in an Emergency, which, near the end, includes Don’s voice reading that letter.

    Brilliant observation.

  28. “Don took a huge chance with Betty, writing her a letter in which he exposed a vulnerable side (”… I’ll be alone forever”), and offering her what he thought was a true choice (”you won’t be alone for long”). He has shown a jealous, possessive side with her in the past. This was a big step for him.

    And in leaving the table (and the meeting) at S-C, Don placed his own priorities — home, family — over those of his partners, old and new. He abdicated control over everything that happened after that point. For all he knew, he was out of a job.”

    Well, that’s great. But again, I’m talking about his business instincts. What will happen if Don ever becomes head of Sterling Cooper? Will there be repercussions? Will he continue his aversion for change (unless forced to) or will he learn to direct his attention upon the future?

  29. Don has the whole 60′s unfolding before him.
    But I think Don is one of those more open to change then anyone, this is a guy who has chameleoned his whole life.
    Don loves smart independent women, look who hes dated. He made Peggy a copywriter when it was not very common, Maybe thats whats been missing in Betty for him
    As for his comeuppance Don has his set of morals that we may view as skewed but he is moral in his own fashion. He wants to be better but hes Hamlet, unable to do what he knows he should and its driving him mad

  30. “chameleoned”: I think that’s a great new verb.

    What would it be like to have spent a life doing that? And then tried to do otherwise — living along the linear path, saying and doing what others expected of you — for, say, a decade? What would it feel like to see life from both angles, to know the advantages and disadvantages of both ways of living?

    What an interesting idea. Thanks, gdeach!

  31. Never mind. I see that my question will not be answered.

  32. Rosie, his twee attitude toward advertising (“What’d you bring me daddy?”) might make SC a unique firm amongst the rest of them. Who knows?

  33. As for his comeuppance Don has his set of morals that we may view as skewed but he is moral in his own fashion.

    How is he moral in his own fashion? He’s more enlightened when it comes to racism, for exmple, but this excuses his other actions how?

    He wants to be better but…

    Then “be better.” No one put a gun to his head, forcing him to bang Bobby Barrett.

  34. It's as simple as this: Don gets away with it because he can. Mid-century WASP men pretty much had the world at their fingers, and could, for the most part, do whatever they wanted. I believe Matt Weiner has spoken about the show in some ways being an exploration of the beginning of the end of (adult, heterosexual) White male hegemony. The people who suffer the consequences of these men's actions are the "others" — women, minorities, youth, gay people, etc. — who operate in the periphery of those men's lives, but would soon be at the forefront, upturning their world.

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