Don is unraveling!
Remember how Betty said she thought she might float away if Don wasn’t holding her down? (And she meant that in a good way.) Well, I think it’s the untethered Don who is floating away.
He over-celebrates his Clio win. (Clios weren’t all that impressive in my day. They were a money-generating machine for the award organization and that’s why there were so many categories.) And makes the poor decision to go ahead with the Life cereal presentation. And when it goes badly he makes the disastrous mistake of riffing lines in the presence of the client. A bigger no-no doesn’t exist in Madison Avenue.
You saw the look on Peggy’s face when he committed this advertising faux pas, especially when his straw-grasping resulted in selling the client a stolen line: “the cure for the common breakfast.” And he sold that only because the client was drunk, too.
And even worse, Don’s drunkenness got him in bed with another stranger, apparently a second one. Which is just pathetic. But in his blackout he loses track of the days and stands up his own kids. That’s unforgiveable.
So he’s unraveling. He hits on Dr. Faye who smartly turns him down. More evidence that they might become a couple. And he’s losing Peggy’s respect which might result in her leaving him.
But the thing most likely to put him over the edge completely? When Anna dies. He will become completely unmoored.
Betty and the children provided Don with a framework and a façade that made him keep it all together. Without it he is adrift.
Contrast his current state with young, ambitious, pre-Sterling Cooper, fur-selling Donald Draper. Hilarious flashbacks to how he broke down Roger’s resistance and got himself hired. And as an aside we see Roger’s giving Joan a fur jacket. The irony of all this is that Roger was so drunk he forgot that he offered Don a job. Or did Don take advantage of his blackout and just say he did?
I have little to say about Peggy’s stripping to get Stanley to work with her. I didn’t find it credible. What’s more, I don’t understand why she couldn’t find a better way to deal with this sexist asshat. She’s clever. She should outwit him.
The Don-Roger-Joan flashbacks were definitely the best part of the episode.