Mad Men Season4 Episode 3

So Don Draper grows a heart. And, subtly, signs a contract.

But before we get into that, to me this episode was about 2 things: Bonding and mirroring.

Don bonding with Anna even deeper than their prior deal. Joan actually bonding with Dr. G with her marriage. Don and Layne bonding.

All three are mirrored in the idea of marriage, like Goldilocks and the porridge: one marriage is over, (too cold), one is in shambles in the process of ending (middle can  go either way as we begin), and one is turning upside (surprisingly good news). The over-schooled will draw Greek literature philosophy of everything in moderation, “a bad, a good. and something in between.” The 3 bears motif. The ancient Greek philosophy of literature and life. That’s what I think bc they’ve done it before, notably w the 3 parties episode last year.

Starting with Don:

Don has a bond obviously with Anna. He’s cared, but he’s never been affected. This is the first time we’ve seen him that affected over a woman. When Pete’s dad died Don offered him a drink and to go home. Don, with Anna, actually wants to stay… in her home, unlike his own with Betty. His painting of the wall was just like when in season 2 when he was fixing her chair (after Betty had smashed their chair bc he didn’t fix it).

And this is important: He actually signs his name on the wall, in ink, a CONTRACT. He signs his name, in ink, to a woman.

In the end though, he’s still Don, with his arm comfortably around his call girl. It’s comfortability like a relationship but with no strings. Perfect Don, all middle ground. Not exactly something that we all haven’t been there.

Joan and Dr. G: She cuts her hand, and here Dr. G is right on it. And competent. And her Superman. As much as women love Joan bashing his head with the vase, she still needs him to be her Superman. The conflict within us all. We’re one thing but still need another. We both men and women have a little Don and Joan in us respectively.

But quite a difference from last year during Guy getting his foot cut off. There, she was the one Dr. G couldn’t be in his own life, she was the calm, collected one, taking charge and ruling with common sense over blood. He was the one she found out had bad hands, while she had delicate hands in her time of stress.

Here, very different isn’t it. Total direct reference. Here she’s in a little blood, and he now has the steady, reassuring hands. He’s filling her stereotype that she’s generally always wanted. They started out arguing, and end up bonding. Not the first two people. Dr. G even says later, “I can fix this”.

Layne: The fish out of water, which seems to be a common theme we see much of. Layne the priss, now Layne one of the locker room boys. The rite of ritual, the “virgin” Layne now initiated as one of the real men via getting laid through the boys will be boys office. Now he’s a man.

Most of the women can’t get into Don Draper, but one of the boys now is, without much effort on his part and actually more effort on Don’s part. One of the general mysteries women scratch their head at when it comes to guy/male bonding vs guy/girl/relationship things. Welcome to the world of men behaving badly, i.e. another theme of Mad Men.

So Layne has the bad marriage now. Another theme of life we see in Layne is that you can only punch a man so much in the face until he eventually leaves.

His wife and his former company did just that. He left his former company, now he at least symbolically is leaving his wife. Did you notice, actually since last year, the slow assimilation of the outside Layne? In the beginning of the episode he’s talking about ordering chicken, an American home food staple, and at the end he’s all about steak. Hardly tea and crumpets, fish and chips. And of course it ends with what it ends with. Not where Layne started out last year is it?

And did you catch the upbeat music at the very end as Layne walks in the office? Metaphor intended.

Two men who are opposite, and yet come together. Similar to sometimes Don and Peggy (Peggy last week acting the virgin as if to have a past she erases from her mind and acts like it never happened; just like Don has. “This never happened”)

An exploration of binding and mirroring, this whole episode.

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2 Responses to “Mad Men Season4 Episode 3”

  1. Very interesting interpretation of Don signing Anna’s wall; I didn’t think of it so much as a contract as him leaving a mark on her life before walking out and leaving Anna to her fate. To me, the most remarkable aspect of the episode was how emotional Jon Hamm decided to play Don. I thought he was going to explode into tears, but he managed to hold his tongue.

    Jared Harris makes Lane very interesting, and I hope he doesn’t get overexposed; some supporting players are best in small doses. But I loved seeing him and Don as two guys with busted marriages taking the town by storm.

    Great stuff.

  2. hodo mann Says:

    a bittersweet episode….i am happy to see that Layne’s cojones didn’t remain in the UK…happy to see Don do the right thing..but i do hope Joan says adios to DrG…my bet is he gets killed in vietnam…

    prediction: sal will return as don’s firm struggles to replace him…also look for duck to duke it out with peggy’s new beau

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