Mad Men Season 4 Episode 1

I really felt it was about a finishing, a denouement, of last season; the beating of Don, and then married with Don rising now this season at the end of this episode. Yes he won at the end last year with the new agency etc, but the whole season was more of a loss than winning by the always-winning alphamale.

To me this began as a conjunction between last season of Don’s beating, and it continuing here, and the rising beginning now at the very end of this episode. I felt that was the theme, finishing last season till the end of this episode, and now the new season and maybe Don’s rising again begins. But…

First: The Piet Mondrian. The office background/influence is Piet Mondrian down to the color, down to the frames behind Pete where Peggy is asserting herself, down to the frames of the walls surrounding the Mondrian squares, down to everything of the feel of the new office; lots of really stark white background with solid quadrilaterals of Mondrian color tones overtop as definition. The whole office is like that, that’s the difference you see vs past years. Similar to the idea in general of Bert Cooper and the Rothko introducing the idea of art into the office; except here art goes further and is part of the architecture.

However, Don’s office is still very SC in visuals; the horizontals of the blinds, the verticals of the buildings outside, neutral color etc. Very SC. He’s still Don even though his company is Mondrian. Contrast that with Don’s apartment joint: dark, stark, bad whore, bad sex. The office is bright new moving forward. Don’s place is dark, dank, sad. Where Don is right now. The upbeat office, the beaten down Draper; sad with a whore.

Don and the whore: Two different good-looking people who are yet similar in their desperation. For what exactly?

The first meeting in the office, Don, Pete and Roger are like the 3 musketeers Peers. Unlike the first 3 seasons. But the first 3 seasons petty alpha-male issues do come forth here as well. Some things change, but never really do change. At one point Don gives in to Roger, part of his again remaining down. Another symbolic Don Draper line, to keep us all in line, Roger saying to Don, “who knows who you are? ” One of the base Mad Men themes in stone here in the first episode.

Did you notice Bobby is suddenly disciplined?

And did you see the globe in the black and white old tv clip we quick saw? We saw lots of globes last season. One is here again tonight.

Globes, Earth, spin round and round with no beginning and no end; like a carousel. (to paraphrase, it travels like a child travels, around and around, backwards and forwards, cough, cough, Kodak personation ahem) I still maintain the motif of carousel is underlying in this series as we visually saw with the maypole dance last season, and lots of globes last season, and we saw a globe here in episode one already. But that’s just me. We’ll see.

Don at the end, his pitch. After being beaten so down, at the end here, we see him rising from some ashes. He was beat down in the work meeting, he was beat up last year in many ways, and this season began with him somewhat wretched, wasn’t he in some ways. So what does he do? He has another “it’s toasted” moment. See the similarities from the first ever episode? He talks about the competitors, less than the product. He has his Don (rising back) moment.
Is this foreshadowing?

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