Don Draper, Every Man?

 Posted by on August 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm  Characters, Season 1, Season 2, Season 3
Aug 182009

Wow. Don’s sexual habits. He’s becoming more like Roger (and the underlings as well, though smoother) — that is, he’s more indiscriminate, more public, more casual about his, um, indiscretions. In season 1, he carried on affairs. He had what I’d classify as relationships with both Midge and Rachel. He seemed to have an emotional and intellectual attachment to these women. There was seemingly depth, duration and exclusivity (well, despite the marriage thing, which, you know…) In season 2, with Bobbie and with Joy, it wasn’t so much an attachment, but an escape. Those women provided some sort of release for him. But with Shelly the Stewardess, that was just a sexual encounter: a pretty woman served herself up on a plate for him, and he took a bite…or three. Just because. It was there. That’s right out of the playbooks of every other guy at the office…And Eugene from Paul’s party.

Makes me wonder if Don has gone completely numb. It’s no longer that he “can’t feel a thing,” I get the sense now that he doesn’t even want to.


  101 Responses to “Don Draper, Every Man?”

  1. Here's what I said on another thread:

    **But if Don were in his prime today, I think he would might be sitting next to David Duchovny at a Sex Addict meeting.

    Freddy Rumsen probably did not start out as the office drunk. He didn’t have a history of pissing himself at the office. Addictive behavior escalates over time.

    Don realized at the end of Season 1 that his marriage was important to him, and all indications are that Betty’s doctor told him she suspected him of cheating. In season 2, Betty confronts him and his marriage only survived by luck. Now Betty, who took him back, is well along in carrying his third child, and yet he cheats again. I don’t see his actions last night as being sloppy writing, but proof that he’s addicted and that, like most addictions, the behavior gets more out of control over time.

    Don again and again shows ethical behavior — with his kids, Peggy, Sal, older women on elevators, the Mohawk account, etc. He knows right from wrong, but he continues to cheat. I don’t think this is a product of lack or morals or thinking Betty was bluffing before, but rather a compulsive need.

    Another clue is that he cheated casually in season 1, but there were also standards in place — he seemed to respect the women he was with. He probably even loved Rachel. Season 2 showed him with Bobbie, and he seemed to hold her in a fair amount of contempt — probably because she was in some ways the female him! Season 3 shows him with a woman who seemed to fill him with apathy — there was no real passion in it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a compulsion. **

    People are going to think I know a suspicious amount about SA, but I think numbness can be part of it, not even liking what you're doing, not really.

  2. I keep wondering about the women Bobbie mentioned in Maidenform – the ones who wanted and got "full Don Draper treatment." Were they relationships, escape, or convenience? Or maybe just business.

    I was feeling shades of, "Why would you go to [city] and NOT have [local specialty] while you're there?"

  3. But maybe this is a good thing? That he's devoting himself more intellectually and emotionally to Betty and the children rather than to a Midge or Rachel? He certainly seemed closer to Betty in the premiere, although the birthday revelation to the stewardess shows that he can't, of course, be completely honest with his wife.

    I think Don is definitely resigned to his marriage, and maybe that is because he sees Roger and doesn't want to end up like that. He wants to have a real partnership with Betty. He might have indiscretions with other women, but I don't think he will ever consider leaving Betty for another woman like he wanted to with Rachel. He got a taste of that at the end of S2 and chose to write that letter and come home. He and Betty definitely did seem closer and more comfortable with each other in "Out of Town."

  4. I disagree with the comparison with Roger. Roger is having fun and he even fell in love again. Which is not to say he's anything but a hound.

    DD is not having fun. He is working out his addiction, with all the joy (no pun intended) that that implies. He's the two-pack-a-day guy who wants to quit and finds he's up to two and a half without enjoying any of them.

  5. Ha, H H Snooty, what a comparison: Don's liaisons as cigarettes. Tall, slender, white and able to kill you.

  6. I wonder how numb Don would feel if he knew that Betty stepped out on him…sometimes I think he would be hypocritical and have an overreaction. Other times I think he would be intrigued because he would surprised that someone would cheat on him. I hope season 3 finds a way to address this…

  7. JS, I agree that he'd overreact…and then possibly deny he's the father of the coming baby, although WE know Betty cheated after finding out she was pregnant.

  8. Here is a small and perhaps flawed observation I made during the premiere on Sunday.

    In seasons 1 and 2, it always seemed like Don was more passionate (whether positive or negative) about his affairs with other women, and just going through the motions at home with his wife.

    Toward the end of season 2, Don did start to show some passion for his life at home and Betty. Now, as season 3 begins, his first affair definitely seems to be a "going through the motions" one.

    I'm not sure what that means for Don and his relationship with Betty, but he definitely seems to be less emotionally involved in his indiscretions these days.

  9. I realize DD's incurable infidelity is part of the character, but seeing him succumb to it so quickly after the last two episodes of Season 2 was, for me, the equivalent of his finding out Bobbi had adult children. Really takes the glow off the character and makes me question whether he meant any of the stuff he said to Betty or whether he's all about the sales pitch?

    Adding insult to injury, in the past, Don's conquests have been totally unlike Betty, this one could have been her sister, except a much cheaper imitation. Her line about people asking her if she was a model, but she wasn't really hit home how poor an imitation Betty she really was. Well that, and her incessant talking, throwing herself at him and general ditziness. Maybe she was a representation of what Dick Whitman could score, whereas Don Draper got Betty?

  10. The shift is also interesting in that Bobbie, Joy, and Shelly all pursued Don, fairly aggressively. Bobbie straight up grabbed his crotch after he said 'no' to her twice.

    Don, on the other hand, chased after Rachel and had to actively try to keep up with Midge–she seemed like she wouldn't have really cared whether or not he was in her life. No idea about the mysterious other women referenced by Bobbie.

    So is unattainability a key factor for Don and his enjoyment of these affairs? Is that one of the key challenges that helps to differentiate between the physical and the deeper rewards of these relationships? Is that why we see such a marked difference in his behavior right after he met Betty (in the flashback with Anna) and in his treatment of her over the course of the show?

    Unattainable women, or better said, the thrill of the chase, play a huge role in a lot of similar works of fiction–The Great Gatsby, for example, or Selden in The House of Mirth. Dissatisfied, financially comfortable, uber-American males seem to parlay the archetypal American Frontier mentality into their own final frontier–ego fulfillment by means of sexual conquest. A lack of chase, in these instances, takes away from the experience. It's less fun for them, more of just a physical function.

    I'm kind of going all over the place here, and I apologize for that, but I think it's important to consider the requisite act of pursuit, of chasing after a goal, of facing a challenge as part of Don's 'emotional and intellectual attachment' to these women.

  11. I wonder what Betty and Don's sex life is like when she's pregnant. She seems to me to be the type who would stop sexual relations after she really starts to show. Maybe one layer of Don's denial was using a Roger-esque justification that because the old lady is at home pregnant and not in a sexual mode with him, he has the right to an out of town fling. I dunno, I certainly hope not, but the thought did occur to me.

  12. "I realize DD’s incurable infidelity is part of the character, but seeing him succumb to it so quickly after the last two episodes of Season 2 was, for me, the equivalent of his finding out Bobbi had adult children. Really takes the glow off the character and makes me question whether he meant any of the stuff he said to Betty or whether he’s all about the sales pitch?"

    I agree, I was disappointed and now think he really can't help but lie all the time. He acts like a sociopath sometimes…

  13. It was great to read all of these posts because they really echo some of the thoughts I've had about this. While the boredom and detachment might be a sign of resignation to the rain/drought issue pointed out by someone in another thread, I was really hoping for Don to give me a reason, at least at the beginning of the show, for me to think there is something in him that really cares about his family. A friend of mine saw the show once a while back and said he didn't see any characters with redeeming qualities. I said all kinds of good things about Don and now I'm a bit disappointed. Yes, he handled Sal's tryst well, but I really wanted to believe his heart would stay in his marriage and family for more than a few months. Like hullaballo points out, I didn't want Don to become common.

  14. Oh, and the sneak peak of the next episode doesn't bode well for Don and Betty. They both look bored and miserable.

  15. First off, I love that I'm a tag now.

    Kidding 😉

    But as for Don, that's what I was thinking when he hooked up with the stewardess. It's like he's doing it out of habit now and not because he's trying to find something he's missing from his marriage with Betty. After the first scene, I was actually thinking Don was going to be faithful to her… at least for a while. Then at the hotel I said "WELP! NEVERMIND!"

    Don knows he can get these women so he just has his cake and eats it too.

  16. Does anyone else really think it was Don's birthday? Or was that just a line to help the wavering Shelly over the hump?

  17. He's obviously looking for connection/intimacy and doesn't have the skills to create it.

    This last week's tryst – cliche (stewardess? I mean. really. really?), boredom (he could've taken it or left it was my feeling), and non-participation (he was barely there).

    He feels alone. It's his birthday and no one on the planet knows or can celebrate who he really is…

    Don uses the phrase "girl" or "the girl" alot in the series. I found it interesting (I rewinded a few times to hear it) that he says to Sally at the end "you're my girl" (or something like that). He can't look at Sally without feeling like a fraud. His connection to a daughter may force him to come to grips with all the other women in his life…

    P.S. Can we basketcases have a thread on predictions of Don/Betty's childs' gender and name?? It would be fun!

  18. Don was going through the motions. He barely did anything to encourage Shelly. She did all the work, he just showed up. I'm not defending his behavior — he didn't do anything to discourage her — but he didn't encourage it either. He looked tired and bored the entire time.

    His neediness showed when he mentioned that it was his birthday (Dick's, not Don's) and that was the only moment where I thought he might actively seeking something, some connection with someone. Shelly looked a lot like Betty to me, so maybe he took some comfort in that.

    I like how the scene of Shelly undressing for Don and blandness of their encounter is juxtaposed with Sal's passionate awakening. It shows how dead Don feels; Sal is just coming to life.

  19. #20 – Catherine – well said. Even Janie Bryant gave her boring underwear to underscore the "blandness" you describe.

  20. Don is definitely becoming increasing careless about his indiscretions. First it was Midge, whose bohemian life style is clearly an escape from his corporate world. Then he pursues a client, Rachel, but she has the good sense to get Paul on the account. Bobbie is also a client, but Don continues with her as they are doing business. Recently, he has dalliances while on business trips with his employees. First it was Joy, but I guess Pete never met her, only her father. Now, he's gone as far as go to dinner and get in the same elevator with Shelly in full presence of Sal. So much for not mixing business and pleasure.

  21. #11 LaMargarita, this is something I wonder about as well. Betty had sex with Don one time in the months during the period when they were apart, then once in the bar when it looked like the world was coming to an end. Although he was affectionate with her in Episode 1, it is very likely they have not been sleeping together much since reconciling — I can just hear her saying, "It will hurt the baby" in her little voice. They were barely speaking when he came home, it isn't like she welcomed him back with open arms.

    Don wasn't pursuing Shelly, she came after him, and it was a gimme, as they say in golf. But if we learn there have been others in the months since Betty announced her pregnancy, then that would really darken my view of him.

  22. Stephanie, I didn't even notice that, but you're right! Even Sal's underwear was more interesting.

    Empress Rouge: I agree he's getting more indiscreet, but traveling with a colleague, it all seemed like it was expected. Remember the scene back in the office with Harry and Paul?

    They were looking for details of a wild time away with Dapper Don, but Sal only offered that they were "two old married men."

  23. Sorry, meant "indiscrete." Duh.

  24. #18 — I think she was over the hump before the plane landed. 🙂

    So, yeah, I sorta think it was his b-day. His license would be useless for the joint reason that he was using his B-I-L's name and because Don Draper's b-day is different from Dick Whitman's.

  25. #25

    Actually, "indiscreet" was correct.

  26. Makes me wonder if Don has gone completely numb. It’s no longer that he “can’t feel a thing,” I get the sense now that he doesn’t even want to.

    I've been wondering the same thing. Last season he grew more and more bored with his job, finally escaping from it entirely, only to find that the escape (his days with Joy and the Antonioni eurotrash) was just as numbing. He wants something truly new to get excited about. Remember that brief scene while he was staying with Anna and ran into the guys working on hot rods? He suddenly sprang to life for a few minutes: Something completely new, in a new place.

    It makes me wonder how Don will react when the sixties begin to become "The Sixties." He may embrace all the rapid newness, wanting all the old things that so stifle him to be tossed out.

  27. To me, Don's infidelities are an expression of his self loathing.

    If you consider the timing of events after Don and Sal had gone to their respective rooms, a case can be made that Don was prevented from sleeping with the Stewardess, just as Sal was prevented from fulfilling his encounter with the bellhop. The quick back of forth of scenes implied that both Don and Sal's encounters occured simultaniously. When the alarm goes off, Don reacts more quickly than Sal and the Bellhop. In fact when the alarm goes off, Don seems to have his pants on. My take is that the Stewardess had finished stripping for Don and had gotten into bed. Don was in the middle of undressing when the alarm went off. Don may have made the mental decision to commit adultery but if he didn't actually consumate the act, did adultry actually occur ? Given the circumstances, I do consider him to have been unfaithful however.

  28. Gah! I just realized another man at the office has proof of Draper's fooling around. Season 1, he was something of a mystery, someone said "Draper, who knows what's under that rock?" People suspect, but there's really nothing to see. Season 2, Joan of course, and then Peggy are aware of Bobbie B and Draper. So, for season 3, we see Sal is now in on the big crack in the Draper mystique, but he's probably overwhelmed by his own personality cracks.

    Now, I realize that Roger has possibly hung around for some of Don's flirting in the past, but he's so self asorbed, it really doesn't count, which is one of the few blessings in having a friend who's really only into themselves.

  29. I agree with this commentor in regard to Don. I’m as bored of his affairs (and his backstory) as he seems to be. I think we get the idea of where all this comes from, can we “move forward?”

    Perhaps this is by design and Weiner is more of a genius than I ever realized. Provide ennui for your audience so they accept (even welcome) an intractable character’s emotional growth or at least a different focus for his story arc.

  30. “Oh, and the sneak peak of the next episode doesn’t bode well for Don and Betty. They both look bored and miserable.”

    You’re right, what an awkward scene…it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. LOL

  31. Just because Don is unfaithful doesn't mean he isn't committed to Betty and his marriage… maybe I'm more French that I've realized, but people are complicated, as are marriages. And I also don't think Don is a sex addict. People cheat for a myriad of reasons, but Don, imo, cheats so that he can tell the truth to someone, he could hardly tell Betty that it was his real birthday, so who else is there? Who else can he be honest with about his true self? We all know that Betty is judgmental and petty, she would never accept the truth about Don, much less understand it. If he did tell her, can't you just hear her asking Don why he would do that to *her*…. by telling her his secret origins he would be completely vulnerable to his wife's elitism.

  32. "We all know that Betty is judgmental and petty, she would never accept the truth about Don, much less understand it. If he did tell her, can’t you just hear her asking Don why he would do that to *her*…. by telling her his secret origins he would be completely vulnerable to his wife’s elitism"

    That night be true, but she would have ever right to be pissed…not only is her whole marriage a lie but so is her identity as well and the ones her kids have. It'd be hurtful for anyone to find that out, although I agree she would probably be more grossed out by the fact that her kids' grandmother was a prostitute.

  33. Great observations and comments. At first I wasn’t buying into the sex addict thing thinking that mostly it was Don simply falling into what he is comfortable with – and he is definitely comfortable with both relationships and indiscretions. Hence the “Don Draper treatment” – a title that does not come without something backing it up.

    Now I begin to see it and agree that there is something compulsive there whether or not it is called sex addiction. First as is pointed out he doesn’t seem to be having fun with this indiscretion – he is serious about it and I believe the birthday thing is entirely to get a waffling stewardess into the sack. It is a little creepy how he looks at Shelly and wants her to undress first.

    Also I recall that his primary anger with Bobbie around the “DD treatment” comment is around who knows about it – at that point he most certainly cares about not having a reputation. Yet with Shelly we see him being cavalier – almost careless. It seems that he is willing to risk everything with little or nothing in return.

    That’s the most important evidence. We learn at the end of S2 that he really does care about his family and is truly heartbroken at the thought of throwing it all away – this clearly carries into S3 with his tender treatment of Betty. Yet he risks everything again at the drop of a hat (well no more hats but you get the idea).

    We still know little about Don but we know more than we did. He comes from nothing, on the outside he has confidence but down deep he doesn’t value himself, he is a reinventer – he still admires the hobo and the code, he is learning to build a family without a blueprint and learning to love but has a long way to go. Part of the question of this season will be to see how much he has learned and whether he can deal with this compulsion that threatens everything.

  34. It's so weird how I'll rattle on about stuff and find after hitting send that many people have succinctly said the same thing. 🙂

  35. Another thing I thought about: It's strongly implied that Don's father was partially responsible for all the stillbirths his wife was having because he was having a lot of sex with her (rough sex, I'd gather). So Don doesn't want to do the same thing with the very pregnant Betty, for both fear of harming the fetus and his madonna/whore complex, and takes his libido elsewhere. He's probably rationalizing that he's doing Betty a favor.

  36. Well, we really have no way of knowing how Betty would have handled Don’s background if she had known about it from the beginning. Don’s accomplishments as a self-made man are a thing he can be proud of. Even his fake Don Draper life had humble beginnings as a small-town used-car salesman.

    The thing is, the big lie itself is more awful than anything it covers up. We may, asiobservers, understand the reasons for it, but we’re not the victims of it.

  37. #29 – Self loathing was the phrase that came into my head, the first time I watched it I thought does Don just hate himself for this and now has no motivation to stop?

    But the second time I watched one thing I thought was really cool about the show was how at the beginning Don seemed like he was looking at his mom with this affection about her comment about cutting off his dad’s dick and so sad at her death and to me that’s kind of a big thing, that he imagines his conception and the thought of his mom’s spirit makes him smile. Like…that’s kind of a big thing that he looks back on his whole upbringing with all this shame but then he’s thinking of his mom the whore and imagining his conception being a 25 cent transaction and he’s smiling at his mom’s attitude.

    So then next thing you know he’s with a strange woman telling her it’s his birthday. It just makes me think who is Don playing in the whole thing is he the one who’s a whore and if so is that self loathing or is a whore a good thing? It gave me this vibe of him looking to be comforted. Like he’s not looking for a connection in the woman, he’s looking for a connection with part of himself. The part that is connected with his mother that is only in his imagination but is a very important idea of comfort and connection. I thought that was very interesting because it was subtle and only a glimpse at the other side to things, it’s not just self destruction or numbing or mysterious compulsive physical cravings. The other side to it is that you can see where sex has the hook for Don because there is this tie to the loss he grew up with.

    It makes me care a lot more about Don’s pursuit of happiness. I don’t want to go totally out on a limb but the feeling i get is Don doesn’t do this out of disrespect for women or out of self loathing, he disrespects sex. But he doesn’t even disrespect sex out of a bad place, he does it because unconsciously this is the thing is mother did and somehow even though he didn’t know her he loves her. Which makes me wonder did he always fantasize about her in a good light or is this new and just coming out due to it being his birthday, being in the middle of the night with a pregnant wife upstairs? I found it to be a twist.

  38. **Just because Don is unfaithful doesn’t mean he isn’t committed to Betty and his marriage… maybe I’m more French that I’ve realized, but people are complicated, as are marriages. And I also don’t think Don is a sex addict. People cheat for a myriad of reasons, but Don, imo, cheats so that he can tell the truth to someone, he could hardly tell Betty that it was his real birthday, so who else is there? Who else can he be honest with about his true self? We all know that Betty is judgmental and petty, she would never accept the truth about Don, much less understand it. If he did tell her, can’t you just hear her asking Don why he would do that to *her*…. by telling her his secret origins he would be completely vulnerable to his wife’s elitism.**

    I think he loves Betty and his kids, so I agree that he’s committed in that sense. He now knows without doubt that Betty is willing to oust him over infidelity and he has confessed to it, at least in a ’roundabout way. That means that the possibility is on her radar, certainly when he goes out out town.

    I agree that people are complicated and we’ve discussed the characters as complex from the very beginning. I can and do accept that he can love Betty, want it to work, and still cheat.

    Don isn’t stupid. He cheats knowing that the next time he gets caught could be his Waterloo. Why? (Other than the writers know Faithful Don is Boring Don.) Whatever reasons he cheats are stronger than the reasons for remaining faithful, and that says a lot.

    When I say sexual addict, I’m not being flippant, but just shortening compulsive need to cheat that is more important than his marriage and kids. The women he chooses are changing — becoming less his type. Season 1 it was “Oh, well, Don married a blonde homemaker, but he sleeps with independent brunettes.” There was a sense and logic to that.

    Next we have Bobbie, and while she’s independent, she’s different from Midge and Rachel. In fact, she’s a lot like Don and Don dislikes her for it. The relationship lacked a basic romanticism that was present in the previous women — even with Midge there was a playful vibe.

    Then Joy makes it really interesting in that she has the independence and wild child thing, but she also had some Betty in the mix — she sounds just like her, and Betty was quite childlike for a while. Is this a longing for the girl her married? That at least evokes a little F. Scott Fitzgerald — a little Gatsby — the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. The memory of “Elizabeth” and the hopes he had for their marriage.

    That makes sense to me — that choice. He was now yearning for the thing that was lost — Betty or some version of Betty. He wants the thing that’s just out of reach.

    The stewardess is this different thing. She’s a working girl — not in the hookerly sense, of course — but she’s also blonde, well brought up. and mentions how people think she’s a model. That’s Betty territory again. Is he longing for her, because perhaps the kitchen is closed? Is he longing for the version of her before she had kids? Whatever the reason, he was happy to let her be the aggressor. He’s strangely ambivalent. Why?

    I think it might be because he knows he is supposed to be good and so he doesn’t pursue it — if she doesn’t press the issue then he can return to his room alone and do the right thing. That’s not the same as proactively saying, “I will not cheat on my wife.” That straddling of the line says there’s something else going on. It means that when he packed his — er, Bill’s –suitcase he wasn’t looking for trouble, but maybe he’s open to trouble finding him.

    And that’s as good as guilty for Don Draper, because Trouble in Heels will always be slink up to him to purr, “Coffee, tea, or me?” or point out that she’s not technically his waitress, but…

    Maybe reason number #708 for Don not calling to his maker, what, twice? in two minutes like Sal is because Sal has been a “dry drunk” for his whole life, and for Don the bar is always open. Don, while different in many ways from Roger, is not unfamiliar with shore leave.

    But, and this is key, Don’s infidelities become less sympathetic as time goes by, because people can understand love, passion, a good fuck, some sort of intense experience, but Bobbie was tawdry without being anything special, and the Shelly encounter was one step up from Pete banging the model while her mother was in the next room in terms of sex appeal.

    This is why I think he’s an addict, because he has increasing difficulty saying no even when he gets very little payoff in exchange for the associated risk. Don is sorta going through the motions, because he needs to go through the motions. (Would you like to see the weirdly appropriate Buffy song?)

    Do I think the deep down reason Don cheats is because he wants connection? Yeah. That’s what we see in season 1. But we’re at season 3 and see he is now exhibiting the behavior even when the need has no chance of being fulfilled.

    Sex addicts don’t masturbate compulsively or go to hookers or indulge their addictions because they have high sex drives — the do it in a futile attempt to feel something or fill a need. They will reject a willing partner, to go engage in their preferred addictive behavior even though the willing partner has the better chance of fulfilling the true need. They both crave and fear real intimacy.

    Whatever else you can say about Betty, she has traditionally been shown as a more than willing sexual partner. Now, for all we know, she doesn’t like it during pregnancy, but it’s not like Don only cheats when she’s with child. We’ve also seen him reject her advances — again, a willing partner.

    That leaves the explanation that all hookers know — My Wife Just Doesn’t Understand Me. Well, no, she doesn’t, but that’s not completely her fault. Midge seemed to understand him some. Rachel not only seemed to understand him, but his real chemistry with him allowed him to open up to her — but she ultimately rejected him. Bobbie understood him, but the parts of him of which he was least proud. Joy didn’t know him any better than “Elizabeth” did, and Shelly didn’t want to understand him.

    That’s why I say he’s an addict — because he does want to connect, but he continually sabotages himself in order to do things that show he really wants to connect and will do them even if there is no chance of connection….

    Betty has issues, lots of them, but Don’s cheating can’t be laid at her feet. I don’t know that she would reject him. He fears she would. Maybe is afraid she’ll see him as the trash Jimmy Barrett said he was, but I think of first season Betty telling him how much she desires him and how her whole day revolves around waiting for him so that she can act on that desire. Of course this is sad in many ways, but it’s not the words of a woman who is in a marriage of convenience or not in love with the parts of her husband she knows. (Sounds way dirtier typed out than it did in my head.) She doesn’t know Dick Whitman, but she also doesn’t know Don Draper at Sterling Cooper, so she doesn’t even get to see the superfly Rico Suave shit. In fact, their marriage in season 1 has several warm flirtatious moments and a sense of mutual attraction.

    I remember someone once saying Don went to Rachel because Betty didn’t comfort him over Roger’s heart attack. I never understood that. Don, who doesn’t share his feelings, didn’t make clear how rattled he was over Roger, and part of the reason he was rattled is that it was within the realm of possibility that he too could die or almost die while in the wrong saddle. Betty, being on the phone, couldn’t see his face, and she was dealing with unresolved issues concerning the death of her mother. They were mutually failing one another. If anything, there was a greater failure on his part.

    Betty gets blamed for blowing opportunities she was never given — for rejecting things about Don she was never told.

    Could the knowledge destroy their marriage? Oh, sure it could. Finding out after all those years? That’s understandable to me that it might be unforgivable. However, I think she could have fairly easily accepted it later on. Sure, Don had a seedy childhood, but he grew up to be a tall, strapping, intelligent man and I think that as Don was telling Mrs Draper about Elizabeth she was somewhere telling someone about Don, and while they both fell in love with romanticized versions of one another, I think there was also probably a genuine moment when they could have been honest.

    That Don wasn’t honest at that early point says a lot about his self-loathing, but that can’t be laid at Betty’s feet.

    If Betty finds out about Don and leaves him, I think it will be all about the huge lie he kept for so long and the years of erosion in their marriage and little about Betty being judgmental and petty.

    (I think this might be my longest non-blog post ever!)

  39. I’m generalizing here, but it seems that the consensus, by and large, is that Don deserves a lot of leeway with his actions. There’s a lot of “well sure he cheats, but …” types of comments. You would expect a largely female audience (judging by this site anyway), to be more unforgiving to a guy that not only cheats on his wife, but gets into heavy emotional relationships, and even cheats while she’s pregnant.

    I suspect if Don Draper looked like Burt Peterson, he’d get less sympathy. I’m not saying Don gets a full pass on this site, but it appears he’s not getting the full wrath either.

  40. “Whatever reasons he cheats are stronger than the reasons for remaining faithful, and that says a lot.”

    Good post. I think you nailed it in this line. For whatever reason he wants to cheat more than he wants to be faithful and he is on notice about how much is at stake.

  41. @38 Agree. I think Betty takes a lot of blame for it that belongs to Don, but I guess I just said that.

    A key component of Don Draper is that he’s so appealing — lol — men want to be him and women want to be with him, yada, yada. Studies show that people attribute good looking people with more admirable qualities, so a character played by Jon Hamm is simply going to be given more leeway.

    MM doesn’t just tell us Don is attractive, charming, etc — they show us. Don Draper is played by a good looking and talented actor and that combines with intelligent writing. Everything converges to make us believe this guy could sell ice to Eskimos, because we also buy a lot of what he’s selling — and we’ve seen behind the curtain. “Yes, Don, it’s toasted — go on. OH! Do the thing about the thing with the time machine!”

    The character is so damned full of awesome — made of win as the whippersnappers say — that it spills over into his more unsavory moments. Gives ’em a patina of justification that they wouldn’t have if the role of John Hamm was played by Don Knotts. If old Barney Fife explained that his marital infidelities were based on him being a whore’s son I’m thinking the sympathy level would be a bit different.

    If you look at the clip ProgGrrl posted from New York Magazine, the interviewer asked people who they’d bed. One woman said Roger. The interviewer said he was old enough to be her dad (or granddad, showing the guy is delusional) and she volunteers “Pete’s a snake, I don’t trust him.” Roger is also a snake and asked Mona if you can trust him, or Joan for that matter. What the woman really means is that she finds John Slattery more attractive, point blank, and perhaps finds the character more charming. She wants him to park in her garage. Another woman might be all about the Vinnie and suddenly Pete would be a poor lost lamb from an emotionally cold family. How personally attractive someone is or you perceive him to be matters.

    On the other side, someone might look at the stunning January Jones and say, “Don, you moron, if I had that waiting at home…” and forgive some of the character’s bitchier moments.

    I think one of the reasons Don gets more love than Betty is because, as you mention, there’s a largely female crowd doing the talking. Because, while I think the writing makes Don sympathetic, Betty has those moments too that would allow you excuses to like her if you were so inclined. 🙂

    Going back to the interviewer, he seemed really flummoxed that a couple people picked Peggy. Hey, EM is pretty and everybody knows more men pick Maryann than Ginger. Or is it Irene Dunne VS Marilyn Monroe? Anyhow, Ginger is more a Joan than Joan is a Ginger!

  42. Ms. Darkly and B Cooper–

    Great points (among others) about the looks-admirable behavior correlation (or fallacy). What's going on in MM with Don and Betty is actually a beautifully developed scenario of what goes on in real life. I've always said you can't script any better than what plays out in real life, and here in San Francisco we've had a prime example of that with our own mayor, who was caught cheating with his best friend's wife. Said wife also happened to be on the city payroll and once the cat was out of the bag was given a handsome (at city taxpayer's expense) severance payment. But because our mayor is boyishly handsome, and San Francisco is known for its tolerant attitude, people were amazingly quick to gloss over what was actually a brazen act of infidelity and betrayal. Even his then-fiancee was quick to jump to his defense, even going so far as to say "The woman is the culprit." As if a man in his early 40's had no moral compass of his own.

    If our mayor was as bald as an egg like Bert Petersen and didn't have the veneer of money and power and well-fitting suits backing him up, I can't help but wonder if he would have suffered more politically than he has. And just like MM, curiously it was mostly women (including myself initially) who were willing to jump to our mayor's defense, while most men were outraged. As my boyfriend explained, cheating on your best friend is about the worst violation of the male code of ethics another man can commit. Yet because of his good looks, this was largely glosssed over.

    In fact, speaking of politics, the more I think about it, the more DD is becoming a stand-in for JFK. And we all know what a philanderer HE was. His behavior (and that of his father Joseph P.) would certainly be considered to fall into the realm of "sex addict" today. And interestingly enough, Mrs. Kennedy was also pregnant in 1963, except tragically, the little boy, Patrick, only lived for a few days. Aristotle Onassis invited her to take a cruise on his yacht to nurse her grief during the summer of 1963, and we all know where THAT lead. Everyone says that the tragedy of the Kennedy's little boy was actually bringing JFK and Jackie closer together, until even more tragically, of course, he was assassinated. Will be interesting to see what, if anything Matt does with this historical thread.

    But to return to the main point, I, too, have noticed how willing we often are to give those with good looks a wider berth. As I've said in earlier posts, I think Don is coming if not to the end of the road with his sexual trysts (and yes, a "good" Don would be very boring) to some kind of fork in the road. We'll just have to stay tuned.

    P.S. Wonderful postings, Ms. Darkly. It's great to have you expound so clearly and thoroughly about matters others of us grasp but not as eloquently.

  43. @33 – The thing is, the big lie itself is more awful than anything it covers up. We may, as observers, understand the reasons for it, but we’re not the victims of it.

    I think that's a lot of what is going on with Don. In one of the several interviews I've read with Matt recently, he talked about the idea of this character with this huge secret and who, as we saw in S1, is desperately afraid of being found out. Well, his brother offs himself, cutting off all former family members who could rat him out and then Pete finds out the information and Bert gives is famous "who cares" line. Suddenly Don doesn't have to be nearly as afraid of being found out, but he's still living this lie. Even if he told Betty (and I think she would not only stay with him, assuming he still could be "Don Draper," but she'd be thrilled to understand the mystery of her husband), he would still be living that lie in so many ways. That's really meaty ground to cover.

    Perhaps the perfunctory nature of Don's dalliance with the stewardess is meant to open up this aspect of his personality to us. As a couple of people have noted, he's looking for a connection – perhaps a connection as Dick and not Don – but he's really not able to find it anymore. Maybe the flashback and the glimpse of his bio-mother, who he could never have met and exists to him only as myth, is a sign of his psychological need to integrate the Dick and Don sides of himself, to re-embrace his past while simultaneously embracing his present.

  44. B. Cooper, I'm generalizing here myself, but in my experience there's nobody harder on a woman than other women.

  45. One lurkers' two cents on some points…

    I happen to believe that it was really Dick's birthday, as others have pointed out, and that he was saying that to Shelly because it was true, and not really to get her into bed. He didn't need to play the sympathy card for that to happen, it was well on its way already. He was being honest with her. A little fleeting moment of honesty where he could just be Dick. He could tell her that because he wanted/needed to tell somebody. Somebody who there wouldn't be any of the other baggage that goes along with him saying it really is his birthday. I think people do this all the time today to some degree. Those fleeting moments of honesty that don't always happen in "real life." It's called the internet.

    That being said, I agree with a previous poster who said that the timing of the scenes between Don and Sal happen at the same time. I don't really think Don and Shelly got to know each other in the biblical sense. They certainly would have, and it would have been a one off unfulfilling evening for him, but I don't think it really was completed physically.

    Also, we all knew Sally was going to find something when she started unpacking his suitcase. But when she found the wings, it was, at least that I can remember, the fist time Don had that gut punch moment of being caught. While he was able to easily get past it, I thought it was the first time he was found with his hand in the cookie jar. Or at least crumbs all around his lips. The only other moment that comes close was also with Sally, when she was watching him shave in the mirror in S2 and the conversation they had. From the mouths of babes, as they say.

    And lastly, I loved the comment about Don's secret origin. It just made me think of Don getting a power ring from Abin Sir (ut-oh, showing my fanboy tendencies…) or getting getting too close to some nuclear radiation. Hey, we are in the early 60's here, Silver Age of comic books galore! I wonder if one could make the Bruce Wayne/Batman – Don/Dick comparison somehow. Too low brow for this crowd? Just a thought. I'm a big dork, I know.

    Love the site and love all the comments that everyone has ever made.

  46. @ ASiegel #45

    I wonder if one could make the Bruce Wayne/Batman – Don/Dick comparison somehow

    Sure. The show did that in Episode 3 of Season 1:

    Harry Crane: Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? No one’s ever lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know.

  47. Let's remember another reason why Don wants to keep his marriage together: money. In the sale of SC, he got a check for $500k. That's like $5 million would be today. It's serious money to a man who literally grew up dirt poor, and to whom $35,000 a year is a big salary. He's seen what happened when Mona took Roger to the cleaners, and doubtless he would not want to give Betty a share of that if they were to divorce (NY has no community property at this time, so she would not get automatically half, but still, she'd get something).

    BUT: he still cheated on Betty and under circumstances in which he was likely to get caught, by Sal if no one else. He's a thrill seeker.

  48. "Just because Don is unfaithful doesn’t mean he isn’t committed to Betty and his marriage… maybe I’m more French that I’ve realized, but people are complicated, as are marriages."

    I feel that Don's inability to really commit to his marriage goes beyond his infidelity. How many times have we seen Betty drop her guard and talk about her feelings, etc. to Don? Granted, she hasn't told him everything about herself – including her one-hour stand with that guy from the bar, but she has told Don a lot more than he has ever told Betty. Aside from his hint that his dad was abusive and a recollection of his childhood on a farm, he hasn't really said much. Worse, Betty doesn't know the real Don Draper . . . or should I say Dick Whitman. It's bad enough that both of them had entered that marriage due to their own illusions, but Don's lies and silences are making it worse. The longer he maintains his secret from her, the bigger lie their marriage becomes.

  49. @#38, maybe I'm in the minority but DD gets the full wrath from me. At the end of S2, I was hopeful but knew that DD would eventually cheat again. After all, why do we all watch the show? Not to see a perfect (i.e., "boring") marriage. Knowing all this and knowing Don would disappoint me again, I was ready to accept another affair, not a one nighter that he could just as easily have put off (like the waitress at that Chinese restaurant/bar). But after the S3 opener, I'm done with him. Don just pissed me off.

  50. @#20, Catherine "I like how the scene of Shelly undressing for Don and blandness of their encounter is juxtaposed with Sal’s passionate awakening. It shows how dead Don feels; Sal is just coming to life."

    This is valid, but your comment made me realize something else about the juxtaposition of these two scenes. Look at the flip side. Both men are seeking sexual release from their image-based, hollow marriages via anonymous sexual encounters. Don's feels dead perhaps because he's been doing it for so long–he knows he's not going to find any answers. Isn't this exactly where Sal will end up if he stays in his marriage with Kitty and goes cruising on the side? I mean, apart from the ecstasy of discovery, it's not like there was anything meaningful or romantic about Sal and the bellhop–it was a random, physical encounter.

  51. #47 Brenda, I don't think money had anything to do with Don's choice to reconcile with Betty. On several occasions he's shown to throw huge sums of money at people he cares about:

    1) Gave Midge his $2500 bonus check at the end of their affair
    2) Gave his brother $5000 to start a new life
    3) Has supported Anna all the years he's known her, even though she told him she didn't need him to.

    None of these situations were blackmail and if he and Betty did divorce, I think he'd be beyond generous with her financially. Partly to assuage his own guilt and because he'd want her and the kids taken care of.

  52. I agree with many of the posts analyzing Don’s behavior, but I have a slightly different perspective about the “trajectory” of his cheating, relative to his marriage and the prospect of Betty finding out. In S1, we see Don cheating with Midge-a bohemian with no work/client connections, little chance of Betty finding out. He moves to Rachel, seemingly falls in love, spills his guts, and proposes (seriously?) running away with her-one big notch up on the scale of intensity and getting unmasked. Also, doesn't Burt Cooper chastise him about the relationship? (and doesn't SC lose the account?). In S2, he falls in with Bobbie, and his cheating behavior becomes increasingly brazen, not to mention the potential risk to his career. Oh, and Bobbie shares the stuff about his other conquests. Betty finds out about the affair with Bobbie, and although he gives her the “best defense is a good offense” treatment, this is too close for comfort. He cheats with Joy, while out of town, and if I remember correctly, he does share a little personal information with her (his profession, name, etc. ); however, he’s out of town and not sure where his marriage is going at that point. In the “Hall of the Mountain King” episode, he has the big “come to Jesus” moment, realizes how close he has come to losing everything, and maybe decides to tone it down, to keep his marriage. (I do believe he loves Betty, on some level.) With Shelley, the interaction is low on the Betty finding out scale-again, he’s out of town, totally fabricates who he is, and has no emotional attachment to this woman, especially after the fire alarm interrupts.

    Having said all that, I think Don’s speech to Sal on the plane about “limiting exposure” has a dual purpose. First, he is letting Sal know that his secret is safe. Second, it is cautionary advice related to Don’s lessons learned over the past few years. The closer Don’s indiscretions came to his work life, the riskier it became to his career and home life. That would apply to the nth degree to a gay man in the 1960’s

  53. I’m new here and blown away by the quality of the observation and criticism, thank you so much for this thoughtful forum. @sfcaramia – it’s funny you mention the JFK/Jackie parallel, because I would put money on the possibility that Don and Betty’s baby will be stillborn or disfigured or otherwise disabled. The instant I knew from one of the reviews that the season would open with Betty still pregnant, I knew the birth itself would be a moment of drama. And then, while watching the episode, they both have invested so much hope and change and promise in the arrival of that baby. Don thinks it will (maybe even as already) made him a better husband and father. Yet, he’s haunted by visions of stillbirths, inadvertent, indifferent conceptions, and ultimately the death of his own mother. And what inspires him to that dream-state? The very act of being domestic, of warming milk (as one might for a baby) for his pregnant wife – whose condition we don’t yet know as that scene plays out. What he has figured out how to do at home is play-act – he does it everywhere else: Dick as Don, Don as “Bill.” Now Don as doting husband (to be fair, I do think he makes a genuine effort to be a decent father – he could be more attentive, but one could say that of a lot of fathers at the time and over the decades). MW seems to keep hinting that this is the season that Don will get some comeuppance – to me that means he will be stripped of his identity – one way or another. He might lose his job…or, he might lose (in some way) the least complicated of his relationships – the one he has with his children. If there’s no baby, does Betty still keep him around? Does he stay? If the baby survives, but with imperfections – can he protect it from Betty’s lack of compassion? Does he want to? If not, how does he measure that? Or, if the rest of the JFK-parallel plays out, do we watch – and then mourn – the loss, the “death” of the image and icon Don Draper. (For clarity – not his physical death, but the definitive loss of that identity). I can’t wait for the next 12 weeks to unfold.

  54. It makes me wonder how Don will react when the sixties begin to become “The Sixties.” He may embrace all the rapid newness, wanting all the old things that so stifle him to be tossed out.

    What if he ends up being too scared to do that? Sometimes I feel that stealing another man's identity has allowed fear to dominate Don's life and lead him to adhere to conservative behavior.

  55. Ms. Darkly's comment way upthread about "Bill's" suitcase sparked something. Don told Sal that his brother-in-law had borrowed the Drapers' suitcase but was in the habit of "putting his name on other people's things." While at first it sounded like fairly innocuous sniping about William, it has more layers than that.

    The first thing it reminded me of was last season's Hofstadt storyline when Betty flipped out about their mother's jardiniere being taken by William's wife and asked whether she needed to go around their childhood home putting her name on the things she wanted. (My family actually had to do this several years ago, since a beloved great-aunt had no children but a gazillion nieces and nephews.) It seems the habit runs in the family.

    The next is that, in putting his name in the suitcase, Bill has indirectly put his name on Don through the stewardess. And Don, or rather Dick, has already taken on one name that isn't his own. There's a lot of re-labeling going on in that extended family.

    They say possession is 9/10 of the law. But can that be overridden by a name in permanent marker or an assertion of a false identity?

    Probably more ramble-y than necessary, but I hope I made my point.

  56. #52 — He doesn't so much fabricate the name as he is mistaken for his brother in law. Psychologically that seems a little — close to home.

  57. @42 Thank you — and here I thought I ramble a lot. 🙂

  58. An article on the advantages of being attractive:

  59. "Aside from his hint that his dad was abusive and a recollection of his childhood on a farm, he hasn’t really said much. Worse, Betty doesn’t know the real Don Draper . . . or should I say Dick Whitman. It’s bad enough that both of them had entered that marriage due to their own illusions, but Don’s lies and silences are making it worse. The longer he maintains his secret from her, the bigger lie their marriage becomes."

    #48 Rosie, Can you imagine entering into a marriage knowing so little about a person? And him having absolutely no family at your wedding? It astounds me! Maybe that's where my lack of sympathy comes from. These people are just playing house, which is exactly what a lot of people did then (and now as well). We have certainly come a long way, but at the same time that we have and expect more information we still have the same issues of lies and infidelity. Are we better off? I think at least as individuals we are. I certainly feel as a woman I am much more fortunate and so grateful to be in my era as opposed to Betty's. Betty's class though kept her shackled to certain expectations, like staying married and putting up with dominant male behaviors…. even encouraging more, as in her wanting Don to beat Bobby. You have to admit Betty as a character doesn't inspire much sympathy. I have wrestled mightily with my feminist self, because this show sets my deep set belief systems askew.

  60. Wow, all the comments are so utterly fascinating…. as to whether women are harder on other women, I'd say that I was in the definite "yes" category. I have never known anyone to be harder on women than they are themselves, period. I guess it amounts to, I am only as hard on Betty as I am on myself. And besides we all know how the fable of the fulfilled American housewife ends up. We have seen Betty's manipulations and I don't like them and I can't help thinking that I wouldn't like her very much at all, but that doesn't mean I don't want the best for her. Because of that, I was so disappointed and distressed that Betty was still pregnant…. I knew that meant that all of the gains she had made in S2 would have vanished. Betty's arc just unraveled and disappeared. I accept that Don and Betty are who they are and I don't judge it…. I want more for Betty though, I'll admit it. Do you remember the book "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French? That's what I had in my head for Betty.

    I was, in spite of the fact that I don't really like her, completely sympathetic to Betty's plight last season. Her pleading for an admission that no one wants to hear; her daytime wine stupors that found her wandering through her house hunting evidence. I understand that. What I also understand is that secrets are very rarely received with openness and understanding. Especially, secrets of the sexual variety. Don's sexual encounters are the perfect situation for truths, they are accepted on face value and not questioned further or at least not much. Sometimes I think he just needs to say it, whatever "it" is. It would be preferable if he could confide in Betty, but we have to accept that he can't. I trust him in his hesitancy to let her in.

    And there is all of the elitist class issues that Betty is not immune to, because she is from the upper class and not exactly, ahem, a class rebel. Don knows that instinctively, working class folks live with their position on the ladder everyday. Betty would have to do much soul searching to be there for Don in a meaningful way…. I may sell her short much of the time, but I do believe that she has it in her. But there has to be a catalyst, and that makes me very scared for that baby.

  61. @59 Well, Betty was only doing what we're discussing in the thread — attributing to a handsome man better traits than he might actually have, including honesty. Yes, it's not good to marry someone you know so little about, but she is not so different from a lot of people, and probably was suffering from the female ailment of I-Can-Fix-Him. *When he knows he can trust me, he'll open up to the extent that a guy in the fifties and sixties is allowed to open up.*

  62. "But there has to be a catalyst, and that makes me very scared for that baby."

    True, we all know that happy ending won't last between her and Don…maybe they will explore post-partum depression.

  63. @59 Can you imagine entering into a marriage knowing so little about a person? And him having absolutely no family at your wedding?

    To give Don some credit, though, he could honestly say he was an orphan, and that he had no other family. He showed in 5 G that he did not really think he and Adam had the same father – IIRC, the new husband was hanging around before Ole Man Whitman bought the farm. I also have no doubt that Don created a believable back story for all of this, so Betty would think he was proper enough to marry, even if it meant ticking Daddy off.

  64. Ms. Darkly–I'd call it edifying expounding not rambling 🙂

    Marina_Joan, Welcome and what an insightful initial entry. Thanks for bringing up the stillbirth motif; that only reinforces the historical context for me. As we know by this time in MM nothing is an accident, so that stillbirth imagery definitely portends something for the future.

    Having been Sally's age during the early sixties one of the things I absolutely love about MM is how Matt "brings it all back home," to quote Bob Dylan. He takes my early, largely inarticulate but deeply felt memories of the era and not only brings them into sharper focus, but into consciousness. So that now as an adult I can articulate and have a greater awareness of what was going on. I think you're absolutely right when you say that Don will face some sort of loss, not necessarily physical. Because having vivid memories of the Kennedy assassination–as did everyone who lived then, unless you were an infant–JFK's physical death also brought about a profound loss of national identity. It was the end of a brief, shining dream, and one from which I personally think we never, ever fully recovered. And the thing is, if Kennedy had lived, he too might have experienced a "comeuppance"–who knows. Like everybody else, the press idolized him and kept his womanizing well-hidden from the public. Only a few years later they were not nearly so kind to Teddy.

    BTW, just out of curiosity, does the "Marina" refer to the Marina District? 🙂

  65. I remember Betty wanting Don to spank Bobby, but I don;t remember any talk of beating. And there ARE people without close family – my boss was a late-in-life baby to two only children without surviving parents of their own. She has nobody closer than a second cousin she hasn't seen in decades.

  66. See? I still think Betty initially saw enough evidence of Dick/Don, the hayseed, to not be interested in him. But when the suave, clever bastard that is Don Draper showed up with a fur coat? He was suddenly datable…and marriageable. Not to defend Don's actions, but I think a lot of the pretense he maintains is for Betty's sake. Betty has definite delusions of how her life should be, and Dick Whitman (no matter how successful he might have become), or even the hybrid Dick/Don was not part of those plans. Not in the beginning, any way.

    I do believe that Betty has matured somewhat and might now be more willing to accept the hybrid Dick/Don for who he is, although I'm still not totally sure. It seems to me that Don still has to dangle an awful lot of pretty — either in the form of play acting or some material object — in front of her.

  67. #49, Del maybe we are in the minority but I think Don's a real shit as well. He not only takes his privilege for granted he manages to squeeze double the sense of entitlement out of it because of his self pity. But I suspend judgment every time the little clues come up about his motivations because that's where I identify and the show is acting out things that I can translate to identify with. And when a character is well written and an actor is good you have compassion even when you do feel like judging them, you can do both.

    I think Jon Hamm is just a good actor and even if he had a James Gandolfini face you'd think wow Don Draper. Because people thought hey look at sexy Tony Soprano and it was very credible to take his side even when he was a total prick and a baby and feel like yeah, i get why he did that.

  68. Basketcases: Please help me out. Don/Dick remembered/fantasized that his biological father wasn't Archibald Whitman but some guy with $0.85. The mid-wife delivered Don to the Whitmans but implied that Archie was the father by asking for him. So both of Don/Dick's parents had no biological connection to him. Is this how you guys see it?

  69. Marina_Joan, Welcome and what an insightful initial entry. Thanks for bringing up the stillbirth motif; that only reinforces the historical context for me. As we know by this time in MM nothing is an accident, so that stillbirth imagery definitely portends something for the future.

    *nods agreement* Especially since they made a point of actually showing us the stillborn child (a girl, just like the one Betty is sure she's carrying.)

    Of course, this is also Don's fear coloring his imagining (you can't call it a memory). That may be why, as someone pointed out, Don's mother looks so much like Betty (for a few seconds I thought it was January Jones playing the role.) The approaching child has churned up all of his feelings about his own birth, all the guilt and shame (though there is one moment of pleasure: his mother's dying lament about what she should have done to his father. Even though he believes it to be the ugly source of his name, there is a brief but telling edit to his face, clearly savoring the idea of Archie's dismemberment.)

    I've always been a big lover of foreshadowing (I was notorious for it among my on-line friends during the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), so I'm wondering about (and dreading) this clue. Watch for more Jackie Kennedy references. If we're now in the spring of 1963, her pregnancy would be a major ongoing news story by now.

  70. No. Archie was the guy who paid the prostitute $0.85 — he was Dick/Don's biological father. Abigail, Archie's wife, was not Dick/Don's biological mother, although she raised him and was the only mother figure he had.

  71. @ #69, Melville:

    This is why a small part of me (a very, very teeny bit of me) thinks we may be later along in the decade than 1963.

    All the references to stillborn babies in this season, as well as last (remember, they also referred to the axed American Airlines campaign as "giving birth to a stillborn" — foreshadowing, perhaps?), the re-casting of Bobby Draper to a much older actor, the subtle differences in the fashions, make up and hairstyles, the mentions Jimmy Hoffa, all of this makes me wonder if this isn't a different pregnancy? What if Betty lost the baby we learned she was carrying in October of 1962? What if we're in 1964, rather than 1963?

  72. #48 Rosie, Can you imagine entering into a marriage knowing so little about a person? And him having absolutely no family at your wedding?

    Good point. As a young woman, I got advice from a very wealthy woman to
    "marry an orphan", as a way to avoid entanglements and interference with in-laws. Betty might have initially enjoyed the idea of Don being a handsome, blank-slate, and she could continue her own traditions without interference from Don's "people".
    As a Daddy's girl, it would never occur to Betty that Don would be anything but grateful and in awe of her.

  73. @71, Hullabaloo:

    You know, that thought crossed my mind too, probably because I'm so anxious to get to the Beatles. It's not inconceivable, you know how Matt loves to keep us on our toes!

  74. @69, @71, @73, others….wouldn’t *that be devious? And, frankly, prior to the season, I imagined the season opener would surely be a pre-teen Sally watching the Beatles on ed Sullivan, especially since Matt said the Kennedy assassination would never be part of the narrative, only part of the experiential tapestry which informs the characters. But – it’s obvious at the office the Brits have only just gotten there (the wife still to arrive, the office shuffle still in flux), would all of that still be going on nearly 18 months out? And, Sally acts like Don hasn’t left home since the time Betty sent him away, and Don and betty are approaching this pregnancy with confidence and hope (albeit overplayed and potentially false). They’re still people (or at least Betty is) who haven’t known hardship or tragedy. And domesticity might make Don squirm (and cheat), but he doesn’t really believe at this point that karma is going to trickle down to his kid. I’m more convinced than ever we’re in a Jack/Jackie allegory.
    @sfcaramia: my screen name is a play on the SF institution Marina Joe’s, yes. I’m something closer to a Pac Heights Peggy, however. Your Gavvy comments resonated.

  75. It might. The Brits may have been there for six to nine months, and it may have taken the rest of the time just to get the ball rolling. We saw what happened on the Sterling Cooper end, but who knows what had to be done on the PPL side. I've worked at companies that were "merged," and the dust was still settling more than 12 months later.

    But I'm not completely sold on this theory. I'm just being cautious, expressing a teency bit of doubt about being in 1963. Just to keep things interesting, you understand.

  76. What if Betty has a difficult delivery during the JFK assassination. Weiner said in the commentary for Meditations in an Emergency, (and I'm paraphrasing) "If you have a great personal problem, you're not going to be focused on the news or the world around you." In interviews he said that if he covered the JFK assassination, it would be in a very different way than it is usually handled.

    The classic image is everyone huddled around a radio, or glued to a television set, waiting to see what is going to happen. I could easily see a radio broadcasting the news of the assassination in a hospital room, but no one is paying attention, or just barely paying attention, because of complications with the delivery. Perhaps the baby is born premature, and Don isn't listening to the radio, he's worried about his wife and newborn child.

  77. Has Matt ever said he would in fact even cover the Kennedy assassination? It seems everything I've ever heard or read has him being most emphatic that he wouldn't go there as it's already been done over and over. Also, in point of fact, I think the Basket determined Betty's due date was around the end of June, and the assassination was, of course, in November around Thanksgiving. To keep going with my JFK/Jackie parallel, I seem to recall that Jackie's baby died either in May or June of 1963, which could easily be verified, am just too tired to google it right now.
    @Marina_Joan: Loved the Pac Heights Peggy quip…used to be one, too 🙂

  78. PS. The more I read the comments and let OOT percolate, the more convinced I am that given Don and Betty's personal history and the context of the times, this pregnancy is NOT going to have a happy ending–just too much bad juju being laid down already.

  79. I guess there are different kinds of hardship. Betty's lost one parent she was devoted to and is in the process of watching another disintegrate and die. She was at best emotionally starved as a child and at worst emotionally abused. Each in his/her own way, Betty and Don both come to the marriage as damaged goods. I guess that's one reason I root so hard for them to eventually succeed.

  80. @ hullaballoo #71

    No, sorry, as Kisses In The Hallway points out in her post #191 on the Open Thread, in the scene in Don's office Cooper mentions a Penn Station account to Pete. Penn Station was torn down in October 1963, so this has to take place before then.

    @ retrogirl #76

    I think we figured that Betty is due in June 1963, which rules out a simultaneous delivery/assassination episode.

    @ SFCaramia #77

    Jackie Kennedy delivered her baby, Patrick, on August 7, 1963, and he died two days later.

  81. I'm always going to root for a happy ending, while knowing drama doesn't allow for too much happiness. In my heart of hearts, I know that Don and Betty probably could never be happy together, and that's more a Don thing than a Betty thing. Maybe the last episode will be a HFN (Happy for now.)

  82. @ # 66 hullaballoo

    That makes a lot of sense, he basically cast Betty in the new story of his life, and the fact that she was unattainable in the beginning had to drive him even more. In a way she was really out of his league and whether he came along or not, she would've ended up with some wealthy guy, probably someone who she grew up with. I mean Dick Whitman was wimpy, and at the start Don Draper was a cheesy used car salesman. He wanted more and he got it, but at what price?

  83. @ 46 Melville

    Yeah, I totally forgot about Harry saying that about Don/Batman.

    And I don't know why I just now made the connection until someone else up thread mentioned The Beatles and how now SC is having there own British Invasion. Feb. 9th, 1964 is likely less then a year away.

  84. Here's an amazing quote from Feministing:

    As my colleague Dana Goldstein (the person who got me into Mad Men) pointed out, it's clear Don is recommitting to his relationship with Betty because, up until this point, he has chosen to have affairs that are about more than sex. He's been in relationships with smart women (especially Rachel and Bobbi) who look nothing like Betty. This episode, however, marks a departure: he is having a one-night stand with a woman who looks a lot like Betty. It's still cheating, of course. And Don is still a jerk. But in his own twisted way, it's progress toward being more committed to his family. –Ann

  85. The only person on the show who seems emotionally undamaged and whole is the guy with no relationships at all (as far as we know) and that's Ken. Is he simply the happy foil for the show or is there more to Ken's story?

  86. A few people have mentioned that some female viewers/commenters seem to give Don a "pass" for his cheating. As a female viewer, I certainly do not give Don a "pass"! I think his cheating is despicable. However, part of the brilliance of this show is that the writing and acting leads the viewer to partially put him or herself in the shoes of the characters, including Don. We come to understand some of the characters' reasons for what they do, even if we don't think that those reasons *justify* the characters' actions. Therefore, on some level we love or emphathize with the characters even when they make choices we hate. I feel this way at various times toward Don, Pete, Peggy, Betty….

  87. Don might have been going through the motions with the stew, he might have even had a regret or two, a fleeting consideration of turning her down…but he had pre-meditated intent the moment he took on William's name on the plane. On the flip side, of course, is that he could be 100% faithful to Betty forever and a day, and the false identity thing is the bigger, more devastating betrayal. On a different, but related matter, I think it is interesting that *all of the women we have seen him have extra-marital relations with knew he was married — and were fairly unfazed by it. Code? What code? But neither have they been victims. By giving these women glimpses of himself, a smattering of actual information, he makes them his co-conspirators. Thus he is momentarily one degree less alone, and Betty is exponentially more betrayed — without even knowing it. Woof.

  88. Agree with Donny Brook and others, about Don “going through the motions” with the stewardess.

    I loved the contrast between Don’s plodding encounter with her and Sal’s with his bellhop. The straight couple was sleepwalking through that failed tryst; Sal and the bellhop’s was almost the definition of waking up.

    Is it possible that when the word “nightcap” was dropped at the dinner table, Don’s mind included sex as a soporific? You know: the after-dinner drink helps you sleep, and so does … something else.

    It’s a sad view of marriage, but a helpful one in the context in which it was presented in this episode. I wonder if I’m the only one who saw the marriages of many characters as dim passages occasionally illuminated by flashes of light from outside (Pete’s promotion, Don and Betty’s imaginary moment together, Roger’s spoils from the Greek honeymoon).

    If I were that stewardess, I’d be in no hurry to reach the altar.

  89. Interesting comments. Not much to add, ubt while the stew may have looked somewhat like a Betty-type, he didn't pick her. She picked him as soon as she got on the plane, and came on strong over the course of the evening. He went along with it because he knew he could, I guess.

    I missed the post # and I'm too tired to find it now, but the triple entendre, that Don must also limit his exposure, make a lot of sense. While I'm sure he was unconcerned about what Sal saw, not SalLY. Since he ended up going by his wife's brother's name, I suppose something could play into the future as some have mentioned, but that stew has obviously been around and has probably had men more "game" than Don was that night. I agree that, like Sal and bellboy, it's unlikely they consummated that encounter after the fire alarm. Don looked in need of Viagra before that happened, anyway.

    #65 Melissa: thank you for expressing my thoughts as well. I don't know how spanking can be confused with beating. One is done calmly and swiftly to make a point about consequences, the other is done in anger and is about power and with the intention of real lasting physical pain. While she's obviously frustrated, Betty clearly doesn't want anyone to beat her children.

  90. Hullabaloo @71: Jimmy Hoffa would have been in the news before 1964. Bobby Kennedy had been after him for at least five years before that and wasn't shy about saying so, and he had a major trial (which resulted in a hung jury) in 1962. As for Bobby being re-cast, boys his age grow quickly; I hardly even noticed it was a new actor until it was pointed out to me. (The actor might be older, but lots of child and adolescent actors look — and sound — much younger than they are. At 17, Leonardo di Caprio could pass for 12.)

  91. #86

    Ken puzzles me. He seems to have a inhuman levels of happy-go-lucky. It goes so far as to ring false to me. I don't know, maybe he channels all of his negative emotions through his writing or something. Or maybe he keeps them all so deeply buried he'll pull a Burt Peterson someday. People have been calling his reaction to the department splitting good and Pete's bad, but at least Pete's seemed like genuine human emotion.

    • Melissa, I think Ken is happy because he's focused on his inner life (writing) for satisfaction. Work is just work, women are just sex, and there's an interior, and strong family values, that drive him.

  92. People have been calling his reaction to the department splitting good and Pete’s bad, but at least Pete’s seemed like genuine human emotion.

    I don't think Ken craved the position like Pete did. Maybe he never even thought about a promotion (and clearly that's ALL Pete is focused on), So for Ken, it's a pretty happy turn of events – he reacted as if gold coins suddenly fell from the sky.
    Poor Pete can't ever get what he wants, and Ken gets things he doesn't even care so much about. Even when they snuck up to Cooper's office to look at the Rothko, poor Sal is wracking his artistic brain to figure out what the painting means, and Ken understands it instinctively.

    Let's see:

    Paul is desperate to be a serious writer. Ken gets his story published in Atlantic Monthly.

    Sal is the artist. Ken understands the meaning of the Rothko.

    Pete scratches and scrapes his way to be head of Accounts. Guess what! Now Ken is too!


  93. "He’s becoming more like Roger (and the underlings as well, though smoother) — that is, he’s more indiscriminate, more public, more casual about his, um, indiscretions."

    I don't know that I'd agree. What does seem to be happening, as hullaballoo states, is that he's exchanging substance in his affairs for meaninglessness. Unlike Midge and Rachel, this woman is not close to his intellectual equal; as the line about occasionally reading newspapers underscores. He also is not pursuing. Obviously he isn't doing a very good job of saying no either, but I think that makes a small difference.

    I don't think this episode's affair is more public; he is under a false name and out of town. Of course Sal knows but I think the SC guys automatically watch each other's backs on such things.

    I think he's feeling more detached from his marriage, and everything else after Betty threw him out. She does allow him to return in the season 2 ender, but is that only because she's pregnant? And doesn't he know that? And might not that make a difference in how he feels about fidelity?

    To me, the importance of the stewardess is to set up parallel narrative to Sal's story. They scenes in the hotel before the alarm goes off could be split-screen. Don's involvement with Shelly the Stewardess is something meaningless, Sal is involved in something that will change him forever.

    Hullaballoo is right in that Don's less choosy in this episode, but I think it's because of other reasons besides regression to the norm. He's going continue to separate himself from the others in the office by doing things they can't hope to touch.

    • I think what's missing in this discussion is Don's line, "I've been married a long time. You get lots of chances." That's a completely different tone than we've heard before.

      There's been an evolution in all of this. First, in ep 1.01, we have cavalier Don: He cheats as if Betty will never catch on. Then he meets Rachel, and we have conflicted Don; he loves the one he can't have. Then it's ep 2.01 and we have trying-to-be-good Don in his grandpa sweater, home in the evenings. Then we have sinning Don, fallen Don—Bobbie Barrett, bringing out his sex addiction and sadomasochism. And then there's Joy: Why deny yourself something you want?

      I honestly think this is Don trying to find a middle road. Don who really wants his marriage and family, and therefore doesn't want to fall in love with another woman, or an affair that can mess up his marriage, but also knows that he will cheat. He can't be grandpa sweater Don, it stifled him, he knows it won't work. I think a fling out of town is Don trying to find a way to be married, to avoid threatening his marriage while still feeding the need.

  94. Deb and Jim (hi husband!), good points both … but I don't know what I think of Don's sexual behavior anymore.

    In "Out of Town", I felt I was seeing Don act out some kind of compulsion. I've seen people reach for ways to feel before. It's never a good way to spend an evening, and the best I can say about the Don-and-Shelley encounter is this: at least it didn't go on for long.

    The absence of feeling is never about not actually being able to feel. Life, if it does nothing else, feels like something: feels good, feels great, feels scary or nauseating or like hell. But it definitely gets right up there, in your face like an ocean wave, and smacks you awake.

    I think Don's sleepwalk with the stewardess was about his turning away from something else. I don't know what that is, yet: whether it's Dick, or Betty, or Anna, or something deeper than any of them — a buried feeling or need from childhood, maybe one of those single-digit birthdays the boy Dick never got. I have no idea.

    Whatever it is, Don's not dead yet (and neither, by the way, is Dick). Something will remind him of this, and soon.

  95. @Deb #95 – I think you hit it exactly right. We're seeing the distinction between two types of cheating.

    Don's description to Betty was "I didn't respect you," which in hindsight may be both a capitulation to her position, as well as a way to give himself a moral justification for other types of cheating.

    Going to another town, using another name (okay, her brother's, but still …) and having an anonymous, physical fling with a stewardess (raise your hand if you think Shelly was his first since Joy) that does not involve an emotional connection is, perhaps, how he justifies extra-curricular sex. It was the emotional connection that was disrespectful, not the sex.

  96. I think Don’s ongoing sexual liasons are a wonderful metaphor for the consumerism he’s helping to perpetuate.

  97. Whoops, liaisons. And I took French, too.

  98. I read this whole thread, planning my response, and then Deb beat me to it (#95). Rats, but cool too. What is missing in this discussion is that Don (really Dick) doesn’t think he deserves Betty, so his behavior reflects that (though someone mentioned self-loathing it wasn’t in reference to this). Also, I think he almost felt obligated to take Shelly to his room – on the plane Sal says something about how willing she is. But he was in love or at least emotionally involved with other women, and this is very different. Plus we all know this was a different era, the extracurricular activity is a perk of the job. At least in this particular alternate universe, they’re ALL doing it – it’s expected and it’s accepted. When Sal and Don get back to the office, Sal says there was nothing to report because he and Don are old married men. Ha ha – the audience knows, and the people Sal is talking to know, that this is an absurd assertion.

  99. Just saw the preview clip from episode 3.05, The Fog. Uh-oh — [herein is a spoiler from the preview clip]

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