The Suitcase: Turning Point

 Posted by on October 24, 2011 at 7:14 am  Season 4
Oct 242011

Note: This is a comment by Basketcase celina that I thought was interesting enough to give wider exposure. –Deborah

tilden katz, I really liked your observation of The Gold Violin being the middle episode/turning point of the Don/Betty relationship. By that same logic, if there are 7 seasons of MM, then The Suitcase is the middle episode of the series. So it could be a “turning point” episode as well. Personally, I see it as the end of the unraveling of the full Don Draper persona and the beginning of some one new and more integrated.

The series starts with the hiring of Peggy, who becomes the person who sees through the Draper armor and whose similarity to Don eases his loneliness. Then Don bumps into an army buddy on the train, which brings back memories of his days as Private Whitman. And from the friendly and jovial tone of his buddy, those might have been good days. Adam’s arrival cuts through the Draper facade to the heart of Dick Whitman. Then Pete and Cooper discover Don’s true identity and are fine with it, one by choice the other by not having a choice about it.

Adam’s suicide drags Don’s past into the present and might have been one of the catalyst of Don’s self destructive behavior in S2 and S3, as if Don was trying to destroy the life for which he unwittingly traded his brother’s life. At the end of S3 Betty finds out about Don’s identity and the marriage ends. The marriage to Betty was one of the defining features of Don Draper.

At the beginning of S4, Don’s become a sad caricature of the persona he created, perhaps intentionally. He seems to have regressed to his childhood home (the pathetic man cave) and military life (shining his shoes, and the “military” way he combs his hair and checks his bed in Public Relations). Basically his life pre Draper. And going chronic drunk like his father.

In The Suitcase Don hears of Anna’s death, the woman who condoned his taking of the real Don’s identity. Most viewers say that with Anna’s death Dick Whitman is gone. But in another way, Anna’s death could symbolize the end of the bargain Don made with her, one made with the best of intentions on both sides, but with unpleasant consequences for Don.

If The Suitcase is the middle point of the series and the basic end of the full Don Draper facade, then Don’s voice over in The Summer Man could be very appropriate. With Anna’s death the Don Draper armor dies as well and we finally get to hear what is really going on in Dick Whitman’s head.


  35 Responses to “The Suitcase: Turning Point”

  1. Interesting point about it (potentially) being the middle point of the series.

  2. I’ve written a Season 4 recap on my blog – check it out!

  3. This is pretty amazing stuff.

  4. its really, really good- both cintributors- god i love me this show !

  5. very very good insight.

    i’m also thinking that it is significant for Peggy too. my prediction? season 7 ends with Peggy leaving the agency/Don.

  6. I think that it could be a “turning point” but I don’t think it will only involve Don and his arc. I think Peggy is an important part of it (and maybe others, too?).

    In the beginning, Don (and the men) had nearly everything–at least in the superficial sense of having everything. He wasn’t a partner, yet, but he was firmly on the upward track. He had a beautiful wife, beautiful children at home with him, lots of interesting challenges at work, and good prospects. On top of all of that he had a beautiful and clever girlfriend that seemed to genuinely enjoy Don whenever he decided to show up, but who didn’t ask anything of him (Midge). He had the earnest assistance and even devotion of Peggy. He had the support and affection of Anna. He had girls dote on him from afar. He felt relatively secure that his secret was safe–that he had eluded his past. It looked great–but much of it was a lie. Despite all that he had, Don wanted Rachel, too. Why? A challenge? Yes, but….Rachel had a soul. And Rachel eventually turned him down and walked out because she saw through him.

    Peggy (and other girls), was completely at the bottom of the totem pole. Not only was she “just a woman” and “just a secretary” she wasn’t naturally talented at the things a secretary was “supposed to be good at”: being HOT and pleasing all the men around her. She was naive, she was young, she was fresh like the “driven snow”, and Don did not seem to be the tiniest bit attracted to her. In fact, Peggy seemed a bit of an oddity around the office. Joan was “helpful” in the most condescending way. Peggy rather awkwardly flirted with Don, and he put her firmly back in secretary position. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted, and she didn’t really know what to expect when she was used by Pete right before his wedding. By the end of the season, she’d sunk even lower. First, she was fat and the men were making fun of her. Then she was a single mother with no man willing to step up and be a father. The only thing going for her was Freddie (not Don) discovering that she was good at ad work.

    Don had all the power, Peggy had none.

    I see Season 4 and “the Suitcase” as the leveling out of the divide between Don and Peggy. At this point Peggy has stopped being entirely naive and clueless about her dating life. She has stopped living at the bottom of the totem pole. She has stopped dating an unavailable man who merely paid a little bit of attention to her and used her (Pete). She has stopped being entirely consumed by Don and her job. She stopped dating Duck, who she seemed to be dating because he was the first guy who ever bought her presents (and maybe out of anger at Don for not noticing her.) Mark was not the right guy, but he was about the same age and took her seriously enough that he actually wanted to marry her (though without really appreciating the real Peggy).

    On top of all of this, Peggy has become far more powerful and useful at work. She is doing importat work, whether or not she is getting full credit for it. It is difficult to tell if she is as important to the firm as she thinks she is (Don got all the credit for the award, she got none), but she seems to be genuinely more successful than Don at getting new business.

    While Peggy has been rising, Don has been falling. In the Suitcase, they meet face-to-face.

    At the time of the Suitcase, Don has lost his wife, his sobriety, his golden “nack” at ads, the security of the previous firm, the innocent pleasure of flings with people like Midge, and even his ability to get dates with people like Faye and the Phoebe. His brother has committed suicide, his kids don’t live with him, and he loses Anna. He has resorted to hookers with Lane, and he forgets to pick up his children.

    Peggy actually yells and fights with Don and gets away with it. (Can you even imagine Season 1 Peggy doing that?) She loses her marriage proposal (but we all know Mark was wrong for her). Peggy and Don actually discuss the fact that people think Don fathered Peggy’s baby and that she’s had to deal with people saying that was “impossible” because she wasn’t good looking enough.

    Anyway, Don and Peggy have a night of raw emotional intimacy without anything sexual. But Peggy has become a real person in her own right. Her overwhelming desire to please Don at her own expense has melted. And it is better for both of them.

    Don did not have much respect for Peggy in season one, but Peggy is no longer intimidated by Don in season 4. If Don had had a fling with Peggy in season 1, it would have been merely because she was weak and he could. He would have been taking advantage of her. If Don had had a one night stand with Peggy the night of the Suitcase, it would have been out of Don’s weakness.

    After the Suitcase, Peggy really starts to step into her own.

    She has a physically pleasurable relationship with an intriguing guy (Abe)–yet she isn’t afraid of contradicting this guy. She doesn’t defer to him. He’s really into her. Meanwhile, Stan attempts to demean her–and fails pretty miserably. I am pretty convinced Stan has the severe hots for Peggy, and she turns him down (he tricked her into kissing him and the lipstick incident). By the end of Season 4, even condescending Joan gets called on her BS and the girls chat it up together. Oh–and Peggy fires Joey.

    After the Suitcase, Don seems to have hit rock bottom. He starts to climb out of the pit.

    So, I think the overall story will paritally involve a comparison of their two arcs, and the Suitcase will be very important. The thing is, it is still the sixties and Peggy is still a woman. She’s fought hard, but will her new strength work against her with the guys at work and in her personal life? Was this Peggy’s golden year, or will things continue to climb for her? Was this Don’s lowest year, and will things only get better? Or is he on a permanent downward arc?

    During the Suitcase, I thought that Don temporarily stopped taking Peggy for granted. During the Suitcase, Peggy stopped trying to kill herself to please Don (and men generally).

    I do not think Peggy really forgets about that night with Don. I think she believes it means something (not necessarily romantic). But Don mostly puts that night behind him–like it never happened. Okay, he sqeezes her hand the next morning, so initially it wasn’t like it never happened. And memories of that night seem to come flooding back to him when he’s telling Peggy about his engagement. But by the end of the season, he’s had an affair with Faye, he’s almost been caught by the feds, he’s bared his soul to Faye, he starts to be reconciled with Betty, he’s ditching the drink, his daughter runs away, and he swoops Megan off to Disneyland. All of a sudden, he’s marrying Megan, and he’s taking Peggy’s new business for granted (even if she may be saving the firm).

    In fact, Don seems to have entirely forgotten all about Peggy, until he is telling her about his engagment and feels awkward –lying to Peggy by insisting that it’s been going on for awhile.

    I am curious if Don and Peggy will completely flip positions by the end of the series. Or will they always be the inverse of one another? Or was “the Suitcase” the point at which Peggy broke free of Don so her arc will not be tied to his?

    Throughout Don’s terrible time, he lost just about everything –except his job and Peggy. And perhaps he didn’t lose his job because of Peggy?

    By the end of Season 4, Don seems to have gotten almost everything back. His job situation is improving, he has a fiance, he seems to be turning over a new leaf with his kids, and Betty is relinquishing the house. In fact, Betty seems about as contrite as you can get for Betty (saving him from the feds, being nice about the birthday party, lingering to “chat” at the house), and he gets to parade Megan around in front of her. The Feds are off his tail. Instead of being rejected by women (Betty, Phoebe, Faye etc.), he is now rejecting women (Faye, Midge, models, Betty?, Peggy?) He’s reasserted himself with his kids. And Megan is the sort of woman other men will notice and envy him about. And she appears to be a French-Canadian Maria vonTrapp. And to sprinkle a little sugar on top of everything, his op-ed in the paper about smoking has caught the attention of a wide range of people who are all talking about Don and his agency. Though his colleages are temporarily upset and he gets fake calls from competitors, I get the impression that his tactic worked. His colleagues will come around, and so will the wider world. Especially when Peggy’s new stocking ads catch everyone’s eye.

    Don has gotten “everything” back–but in doing so, has he lost loyal Peggy? And will that matter? I think it will certainly impact Peggy in the next season, but will Don even notice?

    I think that the Suitcase is midway between two very different Don-Peggy relationships. But will Peggy be Don’s arch-nemesis by the end? Or will she be his Ms. Blakenship? Will she be a jilted ex-lover, or the first Mrs. Whitman? Will she be an Anna? Or will she sink back down into the murk because of her connection to Don? Or will she break free and succeed while he crashes and burns? Will her loyalty endure to the end, or will her loyalty turn into bitter resentment when she finally gets taken for granted too many times?

  7. I have always thought that Ep. 2.05 ( The New Girl ) was a “turning point” and that “The New Girl” was not so much a reference to Jane, but to Peggy. We see not only a real change in the relationship between Don and Peggy ( it is in this episode that she first refers to him as “Don” in their interpersonal relations/conversations); we also see Peggy receiving and beginning to act upon the advice of Bobbie.

  8. Lady K. Great thoughts. Here are my guesses:

    I tend to think of Mad Men as chronicling the rapid societal changes going on at the time and its effect on people. In that context, Don has actually been pretty good at adapting and is usually on the “right side” of the change. Compared to guys like Roger, he is good to Peggy, good to Peggy, and jumped off the smoking bandwagon. He was rough on Sal but that societal change arguably wasn’t part of the 60s. Don’s problems are based more on the split between who was and who he is recreating himself to be.

    Peggy perfectly exemplifies the impact of societal changes. By the end of Mad Men, she will be very wildly successful, professionally speaking. I don’t think she will be an arch-nemesis as much as simply independent from Don. The split in the second half will show Peggy becoming her own person, as opposed the first half, where she was under Joan’s advice, Pete’s advances, and Don’s example. I think her end story will be that of the successful woman who doesn’t have a family and doesn’t have kids. It won’t be good or bad but it will be what she has chosen.

    How Don turns out all depends on how he reconciles the split between who he was and who he intends to be. Will MW make DD a tragedy or a story of personal growth. After 7 seasons, I hope it isn’t still an open question.

  9. Scary Lawyer Guy:

    Big Thank You for your excellent Season Four recap and commentary. I hope you will keep writing and coming back.

    Lady K.

    Many Thanks to you as well.

    I am currently on two tracks with the DVD’s – I’ve watched 101-106 with my son, lately. Of course, that’s got Peggy at the bottom, ponytail and all, trying like hell to figure it all out.

    2nd track – I continued AMC’s aborted series of reruns. The last of “normal” Betty/Don relations quickly degraded into a precipitous divorce along with the principals’ divorce from the the old PP&L/SC. Peggy worked the transition to PP&L with integrity and in a way that was coherent with her personality. What a striking contrast.

    I was struck by two late sequences from the S3 final. Don’s bare office – “we’ve been robbed!” (indeed!).

    Kinsey couldn’t wait to see Peggy’s bare and disheveled office to confirm what he already knew.

    And wasn’t his reaction, one must wonder, commingled with Gladis’ undoubted disappointment about not getting a ticket to Mad Men S4?

  10. The Suitcase is my favourite episode of the series. I remember getting teary-eyed at the end. I haven’t been as profoundly affected by a television show the way I was with that episode.

    I think the amazing thing about this episode was not only how powerful it was, but also how we saw everything of Don: the genuine asshole, the charming conversationalist, the fighter, the supportive person he can be when the chips are down… and even the vulnerable. Seeing him cry was a mindblowing moment for me.

    Yet the even more stunning moment was when he held Peggy’s hand at the end. It was such a satisfying moment, because you really did feel like something had changed. He was becoming a complete person and not compartmentalizing his life anymore.

    I think Don’s taken a few steps backwards since then, but there’s hope for him yet.

    • Is there one thing ( secret) that Don does not know, which would make us wonder re his reaction upon learning?

      While Don is aware that Peggy had a child, as far as we know, Don is not aware that Pete is the father.

      What do we suppose would be Don’s reaction upon learning this?

  11. Great article, celina! This comment is almost entirely off topic, but I have been dying to say it since I saw Megan at Disneyland with the kids, wearing something very much like a dirndl: she is a dead ringer for Liesl von Trapp, the wide eyed, black haired, naïve eldest von Trapp daughter. She made me think of this photo:
    Megan has a very similar hairstyle in that scene in Tomorrowland:

  12. How conceivable would it be for Peggy to be in a position to fire Don by end of the MM ? It would certainly complete the story arc for both of them, juxtaposed against the decade that had elapsed since S1-1 and S7-13.

    After Suitcase, I thought that Peggy could replace Anna in Don’s life…someone who knows the real Don, can look him in the eye and then not flinch. After Tomorrowland, I’m not so sure.

    Certainly the rising arc of Peggy is a central storyline. but is Don’s arc still heading back to earth or has it relaunched into a new tragectory ?

    Looking forward to March ’12 !

  13. Lady K just killing it on that post!

    It is fascinating that The Suitcase will be the exact midpoint of the series – 3 and a 1/2 seasons in with 3 and a 1/2 seasons after it. Weiner didn’t exactly know that at the time since his deal for post-season-4 wasn’t finalized, but we may forever draw the line at Suitcase BC and Suitcase AD. Don and Peggy both lost all vestiges of their former selves as Lady K enumerates, but it’s fascinating that through 12 intense hours with each other they get to springboard forward – think of what would happen if they spent more than one night together, they could take over the world! Peggy in that episode has lost confidence as has Don – her work isn’t being recognized, she’s is doomed to be “at square one….single”, she is self-conscious, hence the “men don’t exactly stare in the street” and Don is…well, we know at that point it’s the bottom. But after that, my god, do they bounce back and start becoming the people we will see them as for seasons 5-7.

    As Lady K remarks, I do think Don has tossed aside him and Peggy’s night together in The Suitcase for the most part. Not deep inside, but on a surface level we don’t see any more intimate moments of friendship between them post Suitcase. Megan, perhaps, will be a catalyst for Don and Peggy. If it doesn’t work out between those Don and Megan, he will end up being the wisest he’s ever been. The woman who comes after Megan, if one does come after, will be the final one in his life. He’ll have learned enough at that point to choose quite wisely. It will also do much to drive home the point that all of these women around him come and go, but the constant touchstone is Peggy – in work and friendship…and whatever else the future holds. Matt Weiner loves these characters so much I can’t imagine them becoming adversaries in the end. Adversaries in season 5…now that’s a different story :)

  14. Despite all of our wishes for societal changes leading to “personal growth,” the overarching theme of MM is similar to the theme of the Sopranos…that people (and societies) don’t essentially change. Proof of that is that history constant repeats itself and people don’t necessarily learn from past mistakes. They may adapt and make temporary or surface changes, –veneers that eventually get eroded. (Please excuse the dental pun). Don proposes to Megan, aching for the stable, loving family he never had himself, growing up. Don’s choice of Megan over Faye highlights this–he chose another “ideal” wife (like Betty) over the person who might be better suited to him for life, but of course, we haven’t yet seen what comes of that in S5. It will be interesting to see what happens to the characters of the Old Guard–ie. Roger, Bert, Joan, Betty, Harry and the more open-minded, forward-looking types–ie. Peggy and Pete– as well as the one character endlessly floating between the two, who adapts out of necessity–Dick Whitman/Don Draper.

    What I love about MM is that everything has shades of gray…you can never make a final statement about anyone, really. People and events are not always what they seem. Many of the societal changes that are a-comin’ will not necessarily make people better, or make society “better”, for that matter. The “what I want vs. what’s expected of me” paradox will portend an age of narcissism that is still with us. And it is Matt Weiner’s intent to leave us with mixed feelings of nostalgia for what was good about the past and the relief that much of the bad stuff has changed……or has it?

  15. Megan hasn’t seen Don puke yet. I keep trying to imagine Megan in place of Peggy being in the office the night of The Suitcase, and wondering how attracted to him she’d be if she’d had to experience him at his drunken, most desperate worst. (As we saw in S4, being plastered is about the only thing that will de-catnip-ize Don with women.) She’d feel sympathy for him, sure, but would she have fallen in love, would she have wanted to be his wife?

    I do think it’s true that in Tomorrowland, Peggy starts to feel like everything Don told her during Suitcase was a lie. He lied about not wanting to get involved with his secretaries, and like Lady K said, he also lied about the length of his involvement with Megan (yeah, Megan seduced him probably two months earlier, but there’s no hint that they even so much as winked at each other between then and the time they bedded down in Anaheim). So how can she trust the rest of it? As far as she’s concerned, he’s just another guy who can’t handle a relationship of equals with a woman.

  16. Never thought a comment of mine would be a small part of a post here. I am floored. Thank you celina & Sistahs.
    @lisakaz; Wow. Tremendous insight on what I think is the great overarching theme of the series, the ever shifting shades of gray.
    My question regarding DD and Megan is how much happiness he will feel in the relationship? Enough to not stray and impulsively self-destruct? Not resort to doing what the scorpion does because he is what he is and can’t help himself?
    Probably something in between. And Don will remain the memorial elusive target who is downright irresistible.

  17. ……..mercurial elusive target. So sorry.

  18. lisakaz:

    Good point in contrasting the Sopranos. Don certainly did go the easy way out in Season 4 but we’ve got a couple of years of drama until we reach the end. As a fan I’m hoping for something “good” but you are right to say that it will likely be more gray.

    Interesting that you put Harry with the old guard. I tend to batch him with the new because of his age and his focus on television (which he just fell into).

    tilden katz:

    I’m curious to see how Don and Megan turn out too. I think it is safe too assume that will be a rocky road. I think the dynamics might change with the kids. Betty was considered the horrible mom. Don was lacking but had the good heart. Now we have Megan who is great with kids. Will Don be exposed as a poor father and unfaithful husband? Or will MW give Megan enough gray that she becomes reviled by fans like Betty was?

  19. # 12 and others re “Peggy firing Don”. You will find a similar story line about a reversal of the mentor/mentee relationship in “How Starbucks Saved My Life.”

  20. Mike C., all you need to know now is this: In Beautiful Girls, not one person — not Don, not Faye, not Betty, not even Megan — ever really took Sally’s feelings or thoughts seriously (which of course would have been quite uncommon in 1965, since she was “just a child”). Not one person asked her why she hated her home so much and didn’t want to go back. Even Megan had a lot more sympathy than she had insight; all she said was, “I fall all the time,” and “It’s going to be all right,” when even Sally was saying, “No, it isn’t.” They might have succeeded in delivering Sally to Betty in reception, but the bigger issue of why Sally was so miserable was never tackled. (Even Dr. Edna’s job was to try to keep the peace in the Francis household, not to get Sally’s parents to pay more attention to her needs.) And the older she gets, the harder it’s going to be to keep that buried.

    We already know Don does not like being a disciplinarian; that could get pretty hairy when Sally is old enough to experiment with sex (with other people) and drugs (very soon). We also know Megan can’t be that much of a Mary Sue, that there has to be something in her that’s less than saintly. I don’t mean that they’re going to “Eve” her; probably not, because Jane was already somewhat of an “Eve,” and it would be boring to do that twice. But she’s not going to roll over and play dead for Don, either. Eventually they will fight. Maybe even about the kids.

  21. I really can’t wait for Season 5. Haha.

  22. Thank you for the guest post and the comments!

    The Suitcase series’ middle point could be at several levels. One that struck me is possibly Tarot. Tarot permeates MM. There’s the Sun card at the end of the credits. MW himself has discussed his fascination w/Tarot w/BoK. Also, there’s Anna’s reading to Don.

    As Deb and others have pointed out (and I agree), the opening sequence resembles the Tower card, Peggy’s popsicle add resembles the World, and the episode title The Wheel, well the Wheel.

    One thing I noticed is in the Tarot of Marseilles, the Fool (card 0) is called “Le Mat,” meaning “The Mad Man.” Which is basically the title of the show. Also, whenever a character does something stereotypical of a Mad Ave Mad Man, they’re called a fool. When Roger tells Don he’s happy in OKH, Don replies that people think he’s foolish (throwing away a good wife and marriage for a bimbo). And when Joan talks of Don announcing his engagement to a pretty secretary he barely knows, she says he was smiling “like a fool.” Basically, when anyone chooses the superficial Mad Ave way, they’re called a fool/Mad Man.

    Don starts the series as the Fool, both as the zero card and as the prototype of a advertising Mad Man. If there are 21 numerated cards in the deck (excluding zero), then the middle card is 11. The 11th card is different in different decks. Also, please forgive any errors I make with Tarot, I’m less than a novice, it just intrigues me vis a vis MM and with general life lessons.

    In the Tarot of Marseilles the 11th card is strength. It is pictured as a young women who is taming a lion through her inner strength. The lion can represent the id and/or the sun. The young woman’s ability to control the lion can symbolize compassion, gentleness, and inner strength. That analogy could apply to Don and Peggy the night of The Suitcase. Don is out of control id, drinking excessively, yelling at Peggy, vomiting, falling asleep on her lap, and then crying in front of her. Peggy gently watches and guides Don through the night, forgiving his yelling at her, watching over him as he pukes, letting him sleep on her lap, and comforting him as he cries. Basically taming Don with her kindness and inner strength till the next day he a changed person, more in control of himself and more open.

    Interestingly, both Peggy’s hand position on Don as he’s sleeping and when she comforts him somewhat resemble the card (from the Rider-Waite deck). Also, in some interpretations of Anna’s reading Don is the Sun. And in some interpretations of Strength, the lion is the Sun. So that could reinforce the idea of Peggy taming Don/the Sun. A fun discovery for me, as I searched for versions of the Strength card, I found a MM one with Peggy as the young women. And it was by none other than Dyna Moe. Since the artwork is the property of the artist, I won’t post a link (unless the Sistahs know it’s ok or ok it with Dyna).

    In the Rider-Waite tarot deck, the 11th card is Justice. What struck me about the card is that it can be associated with Athena, the Greek goddess of justice (among her other traits). In the Suitcase, Don and Peggy are at a Greek diner (in what could be the middle of the episode) and there’s a painting of the Parthenon between them, basically the temple of Athena in her namesake city. Peggy even notices the painting.

    Athena could be of significance if she’s symbolized by Peggy. If Don is considered the Sun, then he’s Apollo. Apollo’s sister is Athena, which could resemble the big brother/little sister relationship Don and Peggy have at points. Also, Athena is the daughter of Zeus, born from his skull. Plato gave the etymology of her name as “the mind of god” (thanks Wikipedia). In that way, if you consider Don to be Peggy’s “foster father,” then she is the foster daughter “born of his mind,” his daughter through the intellectual bond they share. With the plethora of Greek references in the series, I hope this isn’t too far of a stretch.

  23. Hello there, I have been a regular audience of this site for a while now but never left a comment. I just wanted to say that I love all the character studies and theories above, and deeply regret reading them because now I absolutely cannot wait for series 5. Unfortunately I live across the Pond, and may have to wait even longer. Damn.

    Anyway, thanks for a good read!

  24. Hi Mike C.,

    I put Harry with the Old Guard, despite his age and TV position, based on what has been revealed about his personality. He isn’t really a risk taker, seems a bit timid and conformist, when it comes to office business. His wife Jennifer clearly needs to boost his confidence (asking for a raise, pushing him to dance/network at Roger and Jane’s Kentucky Derby party). He was clearly freaked out when Kurt “came out” in S2 and called him a pervert (I was actually surprised he said that out loud). He was oblivious to Joan’s hard work and talent at reading TV scripts, and didn’t hesitate to replace her with a less qualified man. Lastly, in S3, while watching the news about the Freedom Riders, complained “I don’t know why they’re stirring up trouble; it’s bad for business”, or something like that. That is precisely what Bert or Roger would have said. He just seems less able to adapt as easily to changing conditions. I do like Harry, though…trying, but unable to quit smoking (remember the ubiquitous lollipop in S1), a bit of a hound dog (one night stand with Hildy, barging into casting calls with pretty women), but there is something endearing about him. I loved him in The Wheel, in his underwear, describing the ancient cave handprints. I just think he leans more on the Oldies side. Having said that, he will probably start dropping acid in S7, LOL… Shades of gray.

  25. @12 rl1856-Peggy doesn’t know Don’s secret yet, but I hope she finds out. I’d love to see her reaction.

  26. I know almost nothing about Tarot. That was really interesting Celina. Now I feel like there really are some connections to Mad Men and I should learn more. I know others have mentioned it here before–especially regarding the Wheel–but I realize I’m very ignorant.

    Are the different Tarot names simply differnt artists’ renditions?

    I like the Athena connection–especially with the Greek restaurant and the picture. I have a question, though. I thought Artemis/Diana was the twin sister of Apollo– not Athena? It’s been awhile, though.

    I think Athena is an interesting link for Peggy–because she is associated with justice, wisdom, warfare, courage and crafts.

    The pictures used on the top of the BoK website–with the three women on the elevator from “the Beautiful Girls” juxtoposed withDon talking to Megan–that banner struck me after seeing some of the images of the “Judgment of Paris” on the Wikipedia Athena site.

    Paris has to choose which of three goddesses deserves the golden apple with the words: “to the most fair” written on it.

    Hera offers to make him the King of Europe and Asia. (Power, Faye).
    Athena offers him wisdom in battle and war. (Wisdom, Peggy).
    Aphrodite offers him the love of the world’s most beautiful woman. (Love of the most beautiful girl, and some appeals to his lust)

    Paris accepts Aphrodite’s offer, gives her the apple, and then receives the love of Helen of Sparta who is married to another. And thus begins the Trojan War, with Hera and Athena siding against Paris.

    I’m just running with an idea–it doesn’t fit perfectly, but it’s kind of interesting.

    It’s a bit of a stretch to say Joan bribes Don with Megan. If Ms. Blakenship hadn’t died, Joan wouldn’t have assigned Megan. But it is easy to associate Joan with the goddess of love and physical temptation. And she does give men their secretaries (and punishes them with them, too).

    I think Faye would want Don to be loyal to her (like a Hera), and she could be perceived as a bit controlling and jealous. She does offer Don a form of power–she breaks her own code and offers Don an opportunity for an account. Betty is a better Hera than Faye, but Betty isn’t in the elevator picture, and she doesn’t seem to be offering power.

    We’ve alreay mentioned Peggy as being like Athena–and she does offer wisdom in ad warfare. And she believes in justice.

    Like Paris, Don chooses the love of “the most beautiful woman in the world”.

    I don’t think that Megan is married to someone else. However, I do think it is a bit mysterious that–throughout the entire season –we have been shown over and over again that Megan is considered very attractive, yet we have no hints of a love life at all. Even Peggy had a love life by day 2. Joyce noticed Megan right away, as did Don’s accountant. Stan was flirting with her. Roger always notices girls. Megan probably had many opportunities if she wanted to sample them.

    I am not saying there MUST be other men. I just like to wonder about the possibility of somebody interesting in her past.

    Oh, boy, do I ramble…

  27. Deborah, thank you for the complement! Coming from someone who is really an expert on Tarot makes it even more special. I wish I could have replied sooner. Illness, computer problems, and serious nonsense caused by others (the worst kind of nonsense) have kept me in survival mode until now.

    Lady K, you’re not ignorant at all. Tarot is not commonplace. It is used in divination (as Anna uses it with Don) or as a way to shed light on life’s path. I’m sure there are other way it is used of which I’m not aware.

    Artemis is Apollo’s twin, Athena is his half sister.

    I think you really hit on something with “Judgment of Paris.” Since the apple said “to the fairest,” then Faye saying “I’m the softest” in bed with Don at the beginning of “Beautiful Girls” could have real significance. I would see Don as choosing Faye (like Paris choosing the sexual) over a combination of Hera (domesticity) and Athena (non sexual) embodied in Sally. It always struck me as odd that after Sally had her meltdown, trip and fall, and icy goodbye, that Don’s first priority was comforting Faye and making sure he was on good terms with her.

    Also, in “Love Among the Ruins” the Maypole scene resembles the Edward Burne-Jones’ painting “The Garden of the Hesperides”, the garden from which the apple is taken. In LATR Don is again fixated of the overtly sexual (Anne Margaret) as appealing. But then he sees Suzanne enjoy nature in a non sexual context around the Maypole and he connects to that state of mind through touching the grass. May be MW is trying to make a connection between Don and Paris.

  28. “[Anna’s death] may have caused some tectonic shift in Don and it may be one of the reasons we saw the proposal. It’s not a mistake that he gives Megan Anna’s ring, he did not give that to Betty, but I think that there is hope,” Jon Hamm said recently, at a BAFTA Q&A event at the Curzon Mayfair.

    So, yeah, Suitcase ep, death of Anna, turning point.

  29. Tom B, thanks! Really interesting that JH said Anna’ death may have been a fundamental change for Don.

    Anna’s death could have changed Don’s life and self image in many ways. One possible way is that if forced Don to see the harsh truth about his life as DD. What did DW really get out of becoming DD (besides getting out of Korea, if his injuries wouldn’t have gotten him out of there anyways)? He doesn’t have any friends except Peggy. The only other friend he had was Midge (five year relationship) and she’s long gone. He had an awful marriage to Betty which was bearable due to the accompanying trappings (respectability of being a suburban family man). And by S4 those trappings are gone. He has his career, but could he have gotten that as DW? In “Waldorf Stories” we see that Don tricked his was into SC, it wasn’t his DD pedigree. So Don would have gotten into SC the same way if he were still named DW. Which means he could have met Peggy as DW, which nixes her as a benefit from becoming DD. As for his kids, they could have come from any marriage with anyone (may be as DW he would have married working class girl who “got” him). And in return for changing his identity, DW got a mountain of stress and fear over being discovered. Basically, the only good thing that came from being DD is his friendship with Anna. And now Anna is dying. Once Anna is gone, Don is left basically nothing good from becoming DD.

    What may be even worse is that his life as DW might have been better that life as DD. Don had loving, admiring, and kind brother in Adam. From his interaction with his Army buddy on the train, is seems DW had friends in the Army. Don’s interaction w/Larry Kryszinski is one of my favorite scenes in the series, not necessarily for the content, but for how much of an anomaly it becomes as the series progresses. We never see a non related man interact with Don that way again. Larry starts talking to Don warmly and expects Don to respond in kind. At first it may seem that Larry is just very friendly. But his look of confusion after Don is cold and his continuation of being friendly, as if he’s assuming DW is just having a bad day, indicates that DW was a friendly guy back in the Army and thus had friends. The person Larry Kryszinski expected to see appears when Don is in California with Anna. Also, in California Don easily picks up a conversation with the guys who are repairing cars and quickly gets an invitation to join them when they race. The way Don as DW easily gets along with the car guys implies DW was quick to make friends.

    Then there’s Uncle Mack. Don first calls Mack one of those “sorry people” in “Long Weekend.” But he also had a silent reaction to hearing of his death, unlike his virulent response to Abigail’s. And then in “Hobo Code” Don says Mack was “nice to him” in the voice of a little child. Also, Don at first calls him “Mack” and then instantly corrects himself to “Uncle Mack.” The title of “Uncle” and Don correcting himself shows respect for Mack. So did Don really think Mack was a “sorry person” of was his venom for Abigail spilling over onto Uncle Mac?

    May be Uncle Mack just treated him better than others, which might not have been a high standard. But in “The Suitcase” Don reminisces and quotes Uncle Mack in a fond way. He even calls him “My Uncle Mack.” So after “The Suitcase” I’m getting convinced that Uncle Mack was genuinely nice to DW, it’s Don’s hatred of Abigail that led to him bad mouthing him in LW. Also, in RitF Don talks about swimming in a quarry. That sounds like Pennsylvania (where he went w/Abigail and Mack after losing the farm, as per his conversation w/Hilton) rather than Illinois. If that’s the case it’s plausible that Uncle Mack taught DW to swim. Interestingly, after Don starts to turn over a new leaf in “Summer Man” he starts his day with swimming. Perhaps it’s his was to connect with a man who was actually nice to him.

    So if Don has a loving half brother, friends in the Army (which he had to give up once he switched the dog tags), and a relatively good stepfather as DW, his life as DW might have been better than his life as DD. If that’s the case, his monologue and concurrent actions in “Summer Man” makes more sense to me. In SM, Don takes is boxes from his old house, all marked “Draper,” and instead of taking them to his apartment throws them into a back alley dumpster unopened. It’s as if to say his life as DD was garbage he wants to get rid of. Also, the initial drive past his old house in SM is similar to the drive by he did in MoF when he didn’t bring the cake and instead went to the railroad tracks. In MoF, Don feels alienated and outside of his DD life and can’t deal with it, as he iterates to Anna later. Perhaps the two scenes are bookends. More important is what Don says in SM.

    “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things, and wish for what we had.”

    Some people think Don is talking about his marriage w/Betty and the life he had (he wanted out of the marriage and now he misses it). However, he’s saying this as he’s putting the boxes of his Draper life in a dumpster. My take is the “so much more” is his life glamorous as DD. And the “We’re ruined because we get these things, and wish for what we had” is that he got his fabulous DD life, found it was hollow and emotionally empty, and now misses the life he had with Adam, his Army friends, and perhaps even Uncle Mack. The death of Anna, whose love was the one positive element becoming DD, puts an end to anything good that came out of becoming DD. And perhaps that final forced Don to voice the brutal truth.

  30. Great observations, celina! I hadn’t thought of his journal comment that way, although I didn’t think he meant that he wanted to get back with Betty, either. He could have been talking about her, come to think of it. I get the impression Betty wishes for what she had, sometimes!

    Don is emerging, in Summer Man, from a kind of stupor. He’s been depressed and drowning himself in booze and overwork. You’re right, he has no friends, no people, as Gene would say. And he’s lost Anna, the only person who really knew and understood him. With her gone, there is nobody but Peggy who even comes close.

    He respects Peggy, and values her opinions, but he’s not really intimate with her. He has to pull himself out of his tailspin, by himself, and he does.

    Maybe he had Army buddies, but not for long. He was posted to a lone officer as his lone grunt. He was running away when he joined the Army, and he found himself nowhere, with no friends, and a taskmaster with no face. That he traded places with a faceless dead man is perhaps telling.

    Dick growing up had a half brother, it’s true, but we don’t see him with any friends in the few flashbacks. He tells the hobo, “I’m a whore child, don’t you know,” and I think his painfully low status, beneath even the poor dirt farmers he grew up around, was a big reason he wanted to throw his past away, first by running away to the Army, then running away from his name when he got the chance.

  31. Tom B, thank you! I agree Don had been in a drunken daze most of the season until then. As for being alone, Peggy basically calls him out on it when she snipes that it’s not her fault he has no friends or family.

    With Don and the army, it’s interesting that the same topic is being discussed in the Dick/Anna thread. The best I can understand things, there’s the picture of DW in uniform w/Adam dated 1944 (the one Don burns in 5G). So DW joined the army by ’44 which would have been around when he 18 or so (I’m not even going to touch exact ages, there’s no point except to boost Advil sales). The Korean War didn’t start until ’50. So DW was in the army from ’44-’50, but (as per what he told Peggy in the diner and the real DD in Korea) in a non combat role. Larry Kryszinski seems to have a real fondness for those days, at least some at Fort Sill, and talks to Don like he was one of his buddies from back in the day. Larry even goes on about all the guys they knew back in Fort Sill. Perhaps Don was posted at Fort Sill for the beginning of his stint in the army, if not for the majority of his service, and near the end was posted elsewhere before he went to Korea. That would explain why Larry had no idea Dick Whitman was “dead,” Larry lost track of DW after Fort Sill. If DW was at Fort Sill for many years, he could have made friends such as Larry and the guys Larry was talking about. Also, in the army his background might not have hampered his ability to make friends since it tries to equalize everyone. And I’m guessing DW kept quiet about the more scandalous details of his past, the only “burden” he had was being a hillbilly of sorts. Also, in “Public Relations” DW’s fabulous DD life has turned to dirt and he returns to his military habits (the way he combs his hair, makes his bed, and shines his shoes). Could this be a way of returning to a happier point in his life?

    Why DW didn’t fight in the Pacific in ’44-’45 is anyone’s guess. Mine is that he might have had a sympathetic Commanding Officer or Sergeant. Don, when he’s his better father figure is like an army sergeant, as he can be with Peggy. He wants her to work hard, doesn’t take excuses, and even barks at her at the end of “The Suitcase” like a Sgt. w/his “come back and give me 10 ideas.” Don knows how to type, which I don’t think was common for an army man in those days. Perhaps his CO realized that DW was just a scared kid running away from a difficult background and trying to make a life for himself. And may be was able to route DW to a clerical job to save him from combat.

    I think Don’s army years may be important. And perhaps the reason they haven’t yet been explored is to synch up the recollection w/the Vietnam war escalation and subsequent protests (Season 5 and onward). The Vietnam War would naturally bring out these memories in Don. Also, I suspect Larry Kryszinski ‘s meeting w/Don could bring Don’s army past back to him. Larry was talkative and had fond memories of his army days. All you need is for Larry to go to a reunion of sorts, bump into DW’s CO from Fort Sill, and tell him he saw DW in NYC. The CO would tell him he’s mistaken, but Larry would insist and say that the man he met didn’t deny he was DW. MM’s audience knows DW can pull a con. He conned Roger in RitF. He conned Roger in “Waldorf Stories.” Switching the dog tags was a high level con. If Don’s CO knew DW had a penchant for running cons, he could eventually do the math based on the fact the “DW’s” body was unrecognizable and his CO in Korea is now in NYC. I’m just speculating, of course. But Don’s CO/Sergeant could be a light on who Don was before the dog tag switch.

    In the Dick/Anna thread, C Carroll Adams says (if I understand correctly) that DW couldn’t have gone to Korea w/o combat experience. Don is clear that he didn’t have prior combat experience both to Peggy at the diner and w/the real DD in Korea. So how’d he get to Korea? Hmmm…..? A clue could be the statement that he “wanted to get away.” Away from what? His home? Um, he did that in ’44. So what was DW “getting away” from in ‘50? Perhaps Don got himself into a real mess around ’49 and needed to split. I think JH said, “When Don gets scared, Dick runs.” We saw that in “NvK” when Don was ready to drop almost 10 years of his life because he got scared. So may be something bad went down in ’49 and he was willing to drop his life from ’44 until then to run. And perhaps the unintentional prototype for switching the dog tags happen, or in other words DW found some way to “give” himself combat experience on paper. Who knows (except for MW, of course)?. But if DW’s life was calm from ’44-’49 those could have been good days in his life and would explain why Larry is so fond of them as well. That could also explain what set Don off on his “desertion bender” in MoF. If he saw Larry on the train and remembered how many friends he has in the army and that he was happy then, his superficial friendless life in Ossining might have been too much to bear in contrast and he just had to get away from it for a while.

  32. Eh, we don’t know what Dick was trying to get away from, by volunteering, or even when he volunteered. He was perhaps 25 when he was in Korea, (I know CCAdams says they wouldn’t have wanted him there w/o experience, but not sure Matt Weiner knew that) and would have been of service age in WWII, but there’s no indication what he was doing during that war at all.

    Maybe he was a hobo!

    All through the series, we see Don alienated, friendless and loosely attached to his career and family. He does play at going AWOL at Sally’s birthday party in s1, and does it for real at the end of s2. He insists on having no ties, no contract, for as long as possible and then some. His signing a contract, finally, is after another AWOL in seven twenty three (an episode named after that fateful day that Bert made him sign his freedom away).

    I must conclude that this who he really is, and not just the aftereffect of assuming a false identity that one day in Korea, when he had the chance to. The question is, can he change?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.