“Mad Men” Recap: Why Is Don Draper So Embarrassing?

Don sobers up (sort of), Roger visits a commune, and technology (along with Kubrick) takes over.

Pull yourself together, Draper. If you were face-palming through last night’s episode of Mad Men, you’re not alone. Don is back at Sterling Cooper & Partners, where he discovers that not only is the creative team’s romper room now housing a giant IBM, but the partners are happy to let him sit idle in the late Lane Pryce’s former office. Now, in a power move that comes off as a notable act of cowardice, Draper’s boorish replacement, Lou Adler, assigns Don to Peggy’s Burger Chef team.

Poor Don has been stoically punching the clock at SC&P for three weeks under some new stipulations that make us pity him a bit, despite his acting like a complete jackass. When his former workhorse Peggy assigns him to write 25 tags, he tosses his typewriter at his window (which doesn’t break) and petulantly deals himself a game of solitaire at his desk (NOT on the new computer, FYI) during meetings. 

He desperately pitches IBM as a client to Bert Cooper, who verbally bitch-slaps him (“Why are you here?”) and reminds him that he’s not allowed to do that anymore. Oh, and one more thing he’s not allowed to do: drink on the premises. What’s a guy to do?

The answer, of course, is to raid Roger’s office for a bottle of vodka and drink the entire thing. How much Draper drunk-sweat can we see in one season? What happened to the suave guy who could drink two driving handles of whiskey and still nail a CLIO? Thank God for noted pants-pisser Freddy Rumsen, who swoops in, sobers Don up, and convinces him—using some good old AA jiu-jitsu—that there’s honor in any day’s work.

Then there’s Roger’s visit to a hippie commune to rescue his daughter, Margaret, who abandoned her husband and child and renamed herself Marigold. It’s well established that Sterling is hip to the drugs-and-orgy lifestyle, and he tries to show Marigold he understands what she’s going through.

But when he spends the night in a hayloft and discovers his daughter is similarly disposed, he short-circuits, embarrasses himself in front of a yardful of commies, and ruins his sweet blue suit. Damn, we hate it when that happens.

And lastly, we saw some much-talked about references to Stanley Kubrick, including the relationship between man and machine, the title (“The Monolith”), and the perfectly centered shot of this door. 

There are only three episodes left in part one of Season Seven, and we’re left wondering how Draper can salvage his career, his family, his dignity. Or will he be just another schmuck replaced by a computer? Whatever happens, we hope we’re not shielding our eyes from more of Don’s hangover shame. We can only take so much, after all.