Sunday Open Thread: Don hitting bottom

 Posted by on March 11, 2012 at 9:37 am  Mad Men
Mar 112012

Today’s episodes are/were The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, Waldorf Stories, and The Suitcase. Obviously, The Suitcase is a Basketcase (and universal) favorite. These episodes illustrate a stark decline to the bottom for Don Draper. What “bottom” moment is most striking for you?

Or, if you haven’t answered last week’s question, that discussion is still going.


  23 Responses to “Sunday Open Thread: Don hitting bottom”

  1. May I be the first to say that we have one more Mad Men-less Sunday ahead of us before our long, national nightmare is over.

    Most striking “bottom” moments for me would be:

    – Peggy crying in the bathroom during The Suitcase. Her emotions are usually so quiet and buried that seeing her breakdown with that big cry was startling. I felt awful for her in that moment.

    – The entire episode of Hands and Knees with Roger. From having the fake phone call with Lee Garner, to telling Joanie from a hotel room that he knew about the loss of the account all along. It was all so sad and pathetic.

    – Don going to Rachel in season 1, wanting to ‘go away’ with her and her saying, “You don’t want to run away with me, you just want to run away.” Don suddenly seemed much less suave and more of a coward, as Rachel pointed out.

  2. I was stunned at the “lost weekend” in Waldorf Stories. That he didn’t even remember meeting or bringing home the waitress was pretty shocking to me. (And I was actually a little impressed that he could still pick up a woman in that state.)

  3. honestly, when Duck calls Peggy drunk on her birthday.

    • I think it was in the same episode but he was way worse when he showed up at the office looking for her. I had the most severe second hand embarrassment.

      • Meditations in an emergency and Amelia, I agree with both of you. Elisabeth Moss talked a little about Mark Moses on the DVD commentary. She said something about how much she admired his acting and the way he is not afraid to show himself as ridiculous. It’s true, it’s a hard thing to do as an actor, to show your character in such embarrassing moments, but he does it really well. Duck makes a fool of himself, and we’re embarrassed to watch it, but it’s really effective for the scens as written.

        • Right.

          When Don is at is lowest you are empathetic

          When its Duck its disturbing…unforgiving…disgusted…

  4. All of the above, plus the scene after Betty’s little breakdown just before she throws him out, (I’m a bad basketcase, I don’t remember the name of the episode) just before dawn, she awakens Don on the couch and asks him point blank if he has been cheating on her. She’s beyond exhausted and deeply confused and just wants to know if he loves her at all. Don denies, of course, when he clearly had the option of taking pity on his fragile wife. But the kicker is he cannot even manage to say even one “I love you”. What Betty gets is “You know I do” and “I don’t want to loose.. all this.” Short, curt and pat answers devoid of any affection or feeling whatsoever. Don was feeling so trapped that he never considered that the truth, or at least a piece of truth would have served him better.
    Also, his massive anxiety attack in season 4. Hamm flop-sweats on cue!

  5. The blackout during Waldorf Stories. To me that was the scariest.

  6. The whole Bobbie Barrett, drive to the beach, car accident thing in The New Girl. There was something about the dead look in Don’s eyes as they were driving that really startled me.

  7. In a way, Don hitting bottom is probably what saved Peggy’s job. Not only did she get him to clean up the Life cereal mess — which he blacked out — but he found out about her and Duck at the very moment when he realized he had no high horse to climb on top of. If Don had been his “usual” self then, Peggy probably would have been fired.

    • My Fave- Is The episode brainstorming for Life ” The cure for the common Pa[l]in.”

      Danny was so strong.
      Who knew he would become an award winning screenwriter and a Game Changer. Imhbo, Don should give him a Recount !

  8. I think the bottom moment for Don was in The Grown-Ups, when Betty told him she didn’t love him anymore.

    The bottom for Betty was earlier in the same episode, when she saw Jack Ruby gun down Lee Oswald live on TV. “What is going on!?” Whatever faith and trust she had was gone.

  9. I can’t point to a particular scene or episode, but throughout S-4 Bert Cooper seems pretty lost. It’s not exactly “hitting bottom,” in the same sense as the examples posted in this thread, but during most of the season, he wanders around the office in his stocking feet, sitting in the lobby or eating an apple or reading. It’s a pretty sad sight. His name is on the masthead and he doesn’t even have his own office! Also, Ida Blankenship’s death marked the loss of yet another long-time associate and serves to remind him of his own mortality.

    • Perhaps he seemed lost, but he was perceptive and pithy in several S. 4 eps. especially The sword and the white flowers.

      I also enjoyed his obituary comment for astronaut Ida and his comment “We will listen and learn.”

      He was entirely justified in his criticism of Don in ep.4 ( not with Don’s bold ( outside the cigarette box) approach but Don’s execution w/o consultation or even a “heads up”.

      BTW- Cooper’s willingness to give up an office was a magnanimous contribution to a struggling start up agency.

  10. All of Episode 411 (Chinese Wall) was a series of bottom and near-bottom moments for Roger – especially when he calls Joan and admits that he never went to Raleigh and had know about the blowoff for weeks. Top all this off at home with Jane and the box of Sterling’s Gold – such irony.

  11. I may be way off in my thinking but the episode where Sally “acts out” at a slumber party and it was decided that she go to a child therapist, I can’t help but think that Sally has been molested. (unless I have missed something to prove otherwise). What she was “doing” at the slumber party is not something a 10 yr old little girl does without in the manner she did this. At first I thought I was thinking it was her new step father or possibly her recently deceased grandfather, which would explain a lot of Betty’s hang ups and love/hate relationship with her father. Sally is just displaying the behavoir of a child that has more issues than just her parent’s divorce. The fact that she does not want to be in that house with her mother and step father wants so desperately to be her father. Had the show not written in a scene where Sally was openly “playing with herself” I would relate it to the divorce and passing of her grandfather but this adds a whole another layer. Take notice of how her grandfather favored Sally over Bobby. That is classic sexual abuse patterns where a man is doing something inappropriate with a little girl but at the same time tries to treat her as a princess to offset the abuse. I don’t know, I could be way off but that is exactly what I am getting from this scenario.

    • I didn’t think she was “openly playing with herself.” She was more or less alone in a dark room where her friend was sleeping. Betty and the other mom were the ones who were going on about “You don’t do that in public.” It’s not as if she were sitting in a classroom in broad daylight.

      Guess we all have different ideas about what is “normal” behavior at that age, and I think everyone tends to interpret scenes based on our own experience. Masturbation is a common activity and I’ll bet MW would be shocked to think that viewers inferred that Sally had been molested by anyone.

      • BBoxer, I think you have to take into a account that Sally is a child, and for that matter a child in the 1960s. I had a pretty extensive sexual education from an early age (was brought up by live in nannies, some of whom were, umm…. let’s just say free and easy about their sexual exploits) and even I didn’t really understand about masturbation. It just happened one day. And if *I* didn’t really understand what was happening that first time, then Sally Draper definitely didn’t.

        As for Sally ‘openly playing with herself’ – again, that’s not how I read it at all. In fact the scene’s not just portrayed as a private moment in terms of the set up (friend asleep, adults absent, dark room, etc), but the camera’s narrow focus on Sally’s face and the television tells us her character is totally oblivious to what’s going on around her, utterly entranced. She can’t stop. It’s the avalanche of puberty.

        I’ve always loved how innocent the whole thing seems. Really unexploitative and, well…. true.

    • Many readers have suggested at various times that Sally has been abused. I have never thought so. I think her “playing
      with herself” was not as dramatic an acting out scenario as the adult response was; it wasn’t “in public” and the friend was asleep. She lost track of the public/private boundary and was in a reverie, and maybe she longed to be caught and get some attention. But it wasn’t a bizarre sexualized behavior. Children touch themselves and that part is normal. FTR, Matt has always denied any incest is being implied.

  12. One might argue that Don asking Megan to marry him is a “bottom.” It’s either a symbol of incredible growth, fate, and excitement, or a complete and total denial of all the truths he’s been facing. I guess we’ll start unraveling that question on March 25th.

  13. After viewing these 3 eps again, I was particularly struck (once again) by Christina Hendricks very subtle skill. When Joan is asking Roger to “let it go” (“Sword/Chrysanthemum”) regarding Pearl Harbor/Honda honchos…. she blithely responds she “has to” believe the world is safer since the war. The (somewhat) faltering conviction in her voice convinces no one, and is a poignant reminder about the futility of war.

    Great scene! Gotta love the succinctness of MM writers, and the acting chops of the cast.

    Also love the Holy Trinity of Roger, Don and diminutive fellow (Jane’s cousin) shot , reminds me of the eternal Sphinx question ;O)

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