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Mad Men: Public Relations - Review

Who is Don Draper?

That my friends will prove to be the burning question of the highly anticipated 4th season of AMC's Mad Men.

After monumental changes in last seasons finale tonight we got to see the aftermath, albeit one year later. It's Thanksgiving 1964 and the more things have seemed to change the more they have stayed the same. On the surface maybe.

If there was any doubt that Don Draper was a rock star, tonight's episode went out of it's way to show that he certainly is now. Finally divorced from mother of the year candidate Betty, Don's gone straight into hedonism. But more on that later. First off he's worshipped not only in the world of advertising but at his own Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency as well. Everyone wants a piece of him and grown men even giggle when they get to meet him. Problem with being a rockstar though is that you're only as good as your last hit song. And as evidenced by the new client reaction to his sexy ad campaign as well as an article written about him the honeymoon may be over. But that's the fun right? Don is at his best as a underdog and not so much as someone at the top with a huge bulls eye on his back, right? Maybe.

If tonight's "Public Relations" episode was any indication on the direction the show will take in this 13 episode season then sign me up! I like seeing Don up against the wall for one reason, he comes out swinging. And let me tell you nobody puts Don Draper into a corner! Er, sorry. Remember it was Don's idea to break away from the old Sterling Cooper and take ALL the top people with him and it's Don idea to not get cuddly with new perspective clients. Time will tell how that strategy works out. Don is a huge success for his groundbreaking ideas and everyone is along for the ride. Just hope they can handle the bumps in the road!

While he's in control at work (bad article notwithstanding) his private life is in disarray. Betty divorced him and is effectively squatting in their old house with Henry Francis. I didn't think Betty could get any meaner but she pulls it off by force feeding little Sally at the Thanksgiving table. I actually thought she was gonna hit her with the phone as well. They'll be time for that later I suppose. All of Henry's family can't stand Betty and with good reason. She seems to have no desire to pretend anymore. My money is that Henry will kill himself very soon. Just you wait!

Back to Don and his, ahem, extracurricular activities. Now, we all know Don is a control freak so it's actually not a surprise that he likes to be punished sexually. Tonight we were treated to some sadomasochistic action with Don and a sweaty hooker slapping him around during sex. I would have LOVED to see the reaction from the huge crowd watching the show live in Times Square but I digress . . . Ironically, Peggy later tells Don off by saying that everyone just wants to please him. If she only knew that the true way to his heart is whips and slapping, well, that would be a different story arc all together.

Speaking of Peggy, we saw her grow so much more confident at the end of the season so when she kept acting scared and sheepish in front of Don I was kinda surprised and a little upset. Somehow I have to believe that she's emulating Don's personal life by playing the field which will surely lead to all kinds of complications. I can only hope! Time has seemed to heal the wounds between her and Pete though. I guess you can't hold a grudge over a baby forever! The shorthand brainstorming she had with her creative guy Joey was a sight to see and way overdue. But I do miss Sal.

Moving on, we did see a glimpse of nearly all the central characters like Roger (with great one-liners as usual); Joan in her own office and looking every bit the bombshell; Cooper with the same exact suit and bow tie he usually wears, worrying as usual; Lane being stuffy; and Harry fresh off his California trip meeting with Desi and Lucy, vicious sunburn and all. Or was that skin cancer?

Random Thoughts . . .

I think Roger is still mad at Don and that's the reason he tried to set him up with Jane's friend. He wants, no, he NEEDS Don to suffer like he is. Hey Don, stay away from the actress that thinks she's seen everything and knows it all. That will definitely be trouble!

The new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has a special line for whores in their expense account but not actual creative. Figures! Love the new digs though . . .

Don has culturally moved into the 20th century by not having an African-American maid but instead getting a snotty woman named Celia who's always nagging him. Who needs marriage?

Very happy to see Kiernan Shipka in the title credits, she totally deserves it. I predict drug addict/teen pregnancy in her near future; the character not the actress! Or at least running away from home. "Free Sally Draper" now! Courtesy of tweeter @ssmirnov

Funny that everyone freaks out about the article the reporter wrote. To have Don Draper you need to take the good with the bad. I guess they haven't heard of the adage that there's no such thing as bad press.

Some questions do remain, such as: Where's Joan's husband Greg? Did he join the Army? Where's Ken Cosgrove and Paul Kinsey? Michael Gladdis who plays Kinsey is not in the season 4 cast photo (and Ken is) so that doesn't bode well for him. Are Pete and Peggy a couple? It's kinda hinted that they are, sorta. I would love that pairing. Where's Duck?

Best Lines:
"They're so cheap they can't even afford a whole reporter." - Roger
"I learned a valuable lesson, stay away from one-legged reporters." - Don
"I just got off the phone with Ho-Ho, Jai Alai is leaving" - Pete
"Who gives a crap what I say anyway, my work speaks for me." - Don
"Honestly Henry, I don't how can stand living in that man's dirt." - Henry's Mom?
"Get your things and get out of my office, NOW!" - Don to new clients.
"How are your balls? You enjoying yourself?" - Don's attorney.

Know that this episode was ALL about Don Draper and who he is. As I mentioned, when put into a corner he comes out fighting, screaming and threatening. Some say he's the devil, but I for one think he's the ultimate survivor. After all, he was a used car salesmen! For a guy with so many (open) secrets the worst question to ask is who they are. I have a feeling that the reporter is not the last person to ask that question this year. I'm more than okay with that and judging from the tweets tonight, so is everyone else. Mad Men has become the equivalent of a true "water cooler" show for the 21st century with Tweets replacing actual humans speaking. Ironic that the show takes place in the soon-to-be swinging 60's.

I know who Don Draper is, He. Is. The. Man. And this season should be quite a ride.

-- Janaki Cedanna

Check out the sneak peak of next weeks episode - "Christmas Comes Once a Year"

Posted by Janaki Cedanna on July 25, 2010 11:15 PM
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