Mad Men Season 6 Review “The Crash”

Don Draper is at his self-indulgent best this week after a shot of “proprietary vitamins” propels him into a three day, sleepless mania. While the energy boost is supposed to ignite the creative fire for a new Chevy campaign, Don spends most of his time flashing back to the loss of his virginity. The woman who pioneered the trail for many, many other women to come is a creepy blend of caring mother and whore. For one of the first times in his life, a young, sick Don is taken in and tenderly cared for. This nurturing is corrupted when the woman exploits his youth and inexperience by sexually educating him. When she later boasts, in front of Don’s entire family, of ushering him into manhood and demands recompense of $5, Don is given yet another reason to be suspicious of anyone who shows him affection.

We have seen over the last six seasons that there are many reasons why Don Draper is an emotionally broken man. However, there is ultimately no excuse for his irresponsible behavior. Yet again, Don strives to be the world’s worst father by riding out his drug-fueled delusions of ad man greatness at his office, leaving his three children at home with Megan. Don is incapable of checking-in with his family and doesn’t realize that Megan, who shares Don’s narcissism and selfishness, has left Sally in charge of all the kids. While Don and Megan are out, a stranger breaks into their apartment and has a frightening interaction with Sally.

When Don returns home, he is still amped and doesn’t appreciate the full import of the situation. Betty is understandably livid. Betty is definitely not in the running for mother of the year, but when compared to Don, she looks like June Cleaver. Because things are always about Don in Don’s world, he reacts to the situation by passing out. He doesn’t have to take any responsibility because he is able to physically check out of the situation. Of course, his loss of consciousness is the direct result of not sleeping and being continuously high for a prolonged period of time. However, the timing of his crash can’t be coincidental. The most disturbing part of the entire interlude is when Don returns to work and calls Sally. He starts by telling her that he is ok and did not have a heart attack. He then lets her know that it was his fault for leaving the back door open. This isn’t a great apology. To lead with: “I’m ok,” is signature Don Draper selfishness. How about asking if Sally is ok and apologizing profusely for not being there? This is one of the most disturbing things about Don – he does not give the impression that he is all that interested in protecting his children.

Aside from the Don-show, the rest of the agency falls to pieces as ad men chase each other through the halls, hurl exacto knives, and come up with relentless streams of bad ideas. While Peggy skips the meth rollercoaster, she does some drinking to cope with the chaos. Throughout the weekend, she endures the verbal vomit spewing from her colleagues as they euphorically devise one terrible idea after another. She even rebuffs sexual advances from Stan. It is hard to imagine what Peggy would have been like if she had taken the shot. She probably would’ve had equally bad ideas and may have ended up on an office couch, again. She is only human and not infallible when it comes to having a good time and fitting in with the guys, but there has to be a limit. Sadly, this may be a gender issue. If Peggy consistently demonstrated the same poor judgment as her male counterparts, which is not to say she hasn’t in the past, she would lose come of her credibility within the office. Stan can have sex with the hippy girl (Frank Gleason’s daughter) and seem like a jerk, but if Peggy acted in a similar manner, how easily would her transgression be forgotten?

There have been similar episodes in the past where we have had an uncomfortable focus on Don’s self-destructive tendencies. When he is wild-eyed and on the verge of collapse, as here, you simultaneously pity and loathe him. Don’s children, though, deserve most of the pity.

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