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.