Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who is Don Draper?

All of Mad Men has, in some way, revolved around the personal history of Don Draper. Here is a man that nobody seems able to figure out. He's stubborn about telling people who he is and when he refuses to answer a couple of questions from a journalist, in the beginning of the season four premiere, the journalist subsequently describes Draper as a man of mystery in his article. Don Draper, a mysterious man, this idea is no good for a company that's still trying to get its foot on the ground. But, Don can't help but act this way, the man has a lot on his mind.

He's still trying to handle the newly single life. Although, he only appears to be concerned about his wife leaving the house he's trying to sell as well as being able to see the kids. Draper is alone, but hasn't he always been alone? Nobody can infiltrate Don Draper and that is both the man's strength and his flaw. What made him into such a successful ad man could actually wind up being his undoing. Throughout the episode, he snaps at Peggy, at Betty, at a family company trying to sell two piece bathing suits. Don Draper isn't messing around, but is he still in control or is he on the brink of losing everything? For the first three seasons, Don Draper was always a man in control no matter how complicated his life may seem. Now we begin to wonder if he's starting to lose that control.

In the meantime, the other main story that was explored in this episode is Betty Francis (former Betty Draper). Here is a woman who might have already lost control. Sure she's found a new man, but her new man is already starting to question his decisions. She's a terrible mother, her new mother-in-law disapproves of her, and she won't move out of Don's house. What has her new husband gotten into? The way that Betty treats Sally is starting to get attention from her new family. How long will they be able to tolerate her?

The season four premiere of Mad Men was a spectacular start to what could be a great season. It's great to see Joan back in full force and it appears that Pete Campbell is in good graces with Don Draper, generally speaking. It's also good to see Sterling's relationship with Don Draper has improved, that was starting to get ugly. But will we see Ken Cosgrove again? Or Paul Kinsey? Or, sadly, Salvatore from the art department? With the latter, I've heard he isn't. That is a shame because Salvatore was probably one of the most interesting supporting characters on the show. His story wasn't that developed, but damn was it fascinating. Here is a man who struggles with his own identity, much like Don Draper. It's a real shame not to see his story continued in any way.

But all-in-all, whereas the season three premiere kind of started slowly, season four starts and ends with a bang. What does it all mean though? Where is Don Draper going with all this? I guess we're going to have to wait a week to find out.

(picture stolen from the New York Times)

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