Mad Men – Episode 4-3 Review

When Don travels, as in “The Jet Set,” it’s as if he not only moves several hundred miles, but into a new world itself. The sets are different and the cinematography has an airier lighting. More importantly, Don has a new demeanor. Free of the advertising world, his family, and anyone who knows him, he throws away the restraints and pretty much does whatever the hell he wants, resulting in revelry and a few of the more provocative scenes of the series.

This week, however, he goes back to Los Angeles to visit the real Mrs. Draper, Anna, and the tables are turned in a dramatic fashion. At first, it’s going fine as usual. Don opens up and acts like a normal guy, conversing with Anna, the only one who really understands him, and her niece, Stephanie. With everything bad that’s happened to Don the past year, being free for a while must have been a sight of relief–but it comes crashing down instantly. After striking out with Stephanie (3 this season already!), she tells him Anna has cancer. What’s more, Anna has no idea. In a split second, Don is pulled back into the world he escaped from, a never-ending stream of bad news. There is no real escape for Don, no matter how far he goes or who he goes to.

They have a very ironic conversation about UFOs, which Anna claims to have seen. She states how they made her think of how flimsy everything is. All Don can do is exchange a few words, knowing the cancer ravaging her body will soon take hold and send her to oblivion–when Anna will truly realize the truth. In the end, Don keeps his mouth shut and leaves without telling her more. He squeezes out the last few minutes with her before departing, knowing full well this is probably the last time he see her alive–and probably the last time he’ll be himself with another human.

Don returns back to the office where Lane is waiting, dejected over his own marriage. They end up having a merry, drunken time out, which was a fun distraction from the sadness of the first half of the episode. Still, it contained flashes of the darkness emanating from underneath it all. They are, after all, two very successful men who have been dumped by their women, and on New Year’s Eve, they have no one but themselves and luckily, alcohol. And the night is capped with Don’s prostitute and her “friend” for Lane, $25 according to Don. We are once again reminded that not all is right, but at least we didn’t see Allison heartbroken for a second time.

I’ve been wondering what Joan’s been up to and we finally got the answer this week. The episode begins with Joan at the doctor’s office, inquiring about starting a family. Perhaps poking around a little too much, the doctor asks why she and her husband haven’t done so already, clearly a sore subject for her which she avoids addressing directly. Then, she drops the bombshell (already spoiled by the sneak peak on Fancast). Without actually saying the word, Joan explains how she had two previous “operations” and that the first was performed by a midwife. We all know she’s talking abortions. Yikes! So, any thoughts on the could-have-been baby daddies? Maybe Roger? Greg!?

On vacation with Greg, Joan accidentally slices her finger and Greg is quite proficient at cleaning her up, the only thing he’s good at. In response to her tears not at the pain, but the state of their relationship, all he can muster is a cold, “I can’t fix anything else, but I can fix this,” in reference to her cut. Along with his statement about her filing papers, it only reinforces how Joan feels about the relationship. There is disconnect between them and Joan doesn’t know what to do.

“The Good News” was the least emotionally resonant episode of the season, which, in the case of Mad Men, doesn’t ruin the episode. As the world of Mad Men enters 1965, “The Good News” acts like a page turn, allowing viewers to breathe before moving into the rest of the season. The next morning, all the key figures sit down at the table, headed, of course, by Joan.

The TV Obsessed reviews over 40 shows on his blog The TV Obsessed

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