MAD MEN “Public Relations” Review (Season 4 Episode 1)

Mad Men (AMC)

Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce are open for business! Last season left off with the crew all gathered in a hotel room receiving their first phone call. The season 4 premiere of MAD MEN “Public Relations” appears to pick up close to one year later. The agency has office space now, although not enough for what they perceive their status requires, but it’s a start. At first I was baffled by the lack of a conference room table, but later realized when the coffee table appeared, there was simply no room for it.

The new agency seems to come at a cost to Don Draper. Clients and journalists alike find him to be the driving force which thereby creates demand from all sides for his time. Don is expected to be at every meeting, meet with every client, and generate a brilliant ad campaign for every customer. The problem, of course, is that Don has no driving force behind him. With Betty out of his life, but apparently not out of his house, Don wastes his time outside the office with hookers and shoe shining in the gloomiest of all apartments. Roger Sterling was right on the mark when he envisioned Don’s home life. While Roger’s attempts to set Don up with the wife of the good old Reverend Newlin of True Blood seemed like a good idea, her idea to wait until New Year’s to see if it keeps when it was barely Thanksgiving, will probably only result in Don moving on to the next conquest. Who knows though, perhaps someone saying no to Don will be a good thing.

Pete, Peggy and the new copyrighter, Joey’s idea to stage a fight over a ham for a client sounded brilliant at first blush, but I don’t think any of them expected the consequences that culminated in Peggy begging Don for bail money. You can’t blame them for not consulting Don first. For most of the episode, he didn’t really seem to be all there. If only I could take a nap on the couch in my office after an afternoon of drinking to escape the fact that clients are bailing left and right.

As usual, Don came up with a brilliant ad campaign for the family company who makes two piece swimsuits (“not bikinis”), even utilizing the agency’s inside joke about the second floor, but missed the mark by refusing to listen to what the client wanted. Throwing them out of the office probably ensured the company would be taking their business elsewhere. It also showed a different side to Don than we have seen before. Perhaps Don wants the agency to be successful on his terms. Or, perhaps, he is growing tired of charades.

It was interesting to me that even though Don came clean about who he was last season, this episode still centered around the fact that no one knows who Don Draper really is. From the very first question from the journalist, the viewers are made aware that Don is still clinging to his Don Draper persona and refusing to let anyone in. Even at the end, when Don grudgingly agrees to do an interview with the Wall Street Journal to make up for the initial lukewarm interview, one has to wonder if Don was really opening himself up or just creating another version of himself that he thinks the world wants to see. I am interested to see where this season takes us and if the new moody, depressed Don is here to stay or just another step to growth.

Although it was hard to pick just one, my favorite quote from this episode was from none other than Roger Sterling to Don about the date setup “If you hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her.”

What was your favorite quote or moment from the show? Share it in the comments below.

(Photos: Courtesy of AMC)