In reviewing past episodes I’ve probably missed the point of Don’s flirtation with the counterculture – “Don Draper” is, of course, a complete fabrication, and there are clearly occasions on which Dick Whitman wants to turn his back on “Don”, possibly to remind himself that he still can. Don of all people knows that nothing is forever. So perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this episode was seeing Don – normally so controlled – at bay and under pressure, and how he reacted to that. This was evidenced most acutely by his reluctance to accept Sterling Cooper’s contract offer, and then in the way he lashed out at Peggy. (And the consequences of that, for Peggy, were quite something.) And then, of course, disappearing into the night with the drug-toting draft-dodgers.
As ever, perfectly-judged scenes piled up this week – Don with the teacher; Betty with the politician; Don and Roger in the lift; Don and Conny. Key scene of the week by a mile, though, was when Don caved on the contract. Bertram Cooper’s been playing the affable, unwordly eccentric for so long that we’ve lost sight of the fact that to get where he is he must have a ruthless streak a mile wide, and in a couple of brutal sentences he ripped his way through Don’s defences. I don’t know whether there was overarching symbolism – together with what happened in the hotel room, is this Don finally realising that he has to turn his back on Dick? – but once again this was mesmerising stuff.