Even by Mad Men standards of on-the-nosiness, Don’s storylines this week in ‘The Forecast’ are remarkably untroubled by subtlety: he’s selling his empty, wine-stained apartment (his realtor: “Looks like a sad person lives here. This place reeks of failure”), and he’s been asked by Roger to prepare a statement about where the agency’s going in the future, for which he tries to get ideas from Ted and Peggy. Yes, he’s letting go of his past and trying to work out what the next few years might hold.
For now, though, Don has the usual workplace crises to deal with: settling a petty dispute between Pete and Peggy, then providing advice to Johnny Mathis on how to bounce back from a failed pitch by making a joke. Unfortunately it doesn’t work and Mathis is taken off the account, whereupon he comes at Don with all guns blazing. Don suggests that it’s a test of character. Mathis: “You don’t have any character. You’re just handsome. Stop kidding yourself!” Now, we know the first sentence to be not a million miles away from the truth, since “Don Draper” is a construct, and the second probably has something going for it as well; Don has more about him than looks, but those looks have undoubtedly smoothed his path through life. Still, speaking half-truth to power isn’t going to go down well, and Mathis gets fired.
A potentially significant week for Joan: in LA for business, she hooks up with wealthy retired businessman Richard Burghoff (Bruce Greenwood). At least, he leads her to believe he’s a wealthy etc., and for now we don’t have any evidence to the contrary. He then visits New York, only to baulk initially at Joan’s revelation that she has a child, then presumably realising that this makes him the most stupid man on the planet – it is, after all, Joan – he does his best to unscrew the pooch. He might have succeeded as well. I can’t imagine that everyone’s going to get a happy ending. Perhaps Joan will.
And as part of our farewell tour of Mad Men characters, Sally Draper’s back this week. Unfortunately for her, she has to watch both of her parents flirt with her much younger friends: her mother with off-to-Nam Glen Bishop (who will later make a pass at Betty), and her father with a “fast girl” at a meal with her and a couple of friends. Sally observes that her parents, in this respect at least, are similar: when receiving attention they “just ooze everywhere”. Once again, there’s at least a grain of truth in that. Glen, though, has now delighted us for long enough, and if we see him again I’ll start to wonder why he’s taking up screen time which could be used on someone we care about a little more.
In many ways this was a good episode; there was certainly a lot going on. I couldn’t help but feel, though, that much of it was a little… inconsequential, and I come back to the point I made in my review of episode 8: we really don’t have too much longer to go here, so pretty soon the punches are going to have start landing if Mad Men is going to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.