This post was written by Allison Pohle.
Earlier this year, Matthew Weiner told The Atlantic that Don Draper represents American society, which is why Don’s multilayered conflict throughout the series can be analyzed through the lenses of man vs. man, society, nature, technology and self. This week’s episode was all about Don vs. technology, specifically the dreaded computer. Here’s what you missed:
- Pete is the burger king: While at dinner with his girlfriend, or real estate agent as he introduces her, Pete runs into an old friend, George, who is working for Burger Chef. Pete convinces George to let the firm pitch a Burger Chef campaign, which is significant because it would reach a national audience.
- SC&P gets a computer: Don is late to work and goes upstairs to find Harry Crane excitedly telling the office that a computer is coming. Roger invites Don to stand at the front of the room with the partners, but Don hangs back in the crowd, an understated way of showing that Don is no longer the leader he once was. The computer will be located in the creative room, which is Weiner’s not-so-subtle way of implying that technology squashes creativity.
- Don’s a late adopter: He talks to Lloyd, the computer installation manager, about how technology is replacing humans. Lloyd tells Don that people feel threatened by the computer because the computer’s life is infinite while “human existence is finite.”
- Lou puts Peggy on the Burger Chef account: He also raises her salary $100 per week. Peggy thinks her hard work is paying off, but Lou really puts her in charge so Don isn’t the account leader. Peggy is so excited that she doesn’t notice his condescending “you’re in charge, sweetheart,” and does her best to break the news to Don. Of course, Don is livid and chooses to play solitaire (of course) in his office rather than write the 25 tags Peggy assigned.
- Margaret runs away: According to her mother, she “woke up one morning and got in a van with some hippies she hardly knew.” She left behind her husband and son to join a commune and sleep with multiple lovers, which her mother says is not unlike the way Roger lives.
- Roger can’t convince her to return: Margaret, er, Marigold as she is now called, loves her life in the country, where “everyone does what they want.” Roger spends the night slicing food, smoking weed and staring at the stars at the commune with his daughter to try to win her affection back, and then orders her to leave in the morning. She refuses, and even though Roger tries to physically carry her away, he fails to convince her to leave. Marigold is Roger, which she emphasizes when she says that leaving her son isn’t any different from how Roger ignored her when she was young. Roger ends up leaving her behind and walks away from his daughter, who has become an uncomfortable reflection of him.
- Don gets drunk: After stealing a bottle of vodka from Roger’s office, Don reverts back to his old ways and gets wasted. A jovial and inebriated Don wakes up from his drunken nap and invites Freddy to the Mets game. While he waits for Freddy to get to the office, the camera frequently shows how Don hung Lane’s old Mets banner on the office wall, which accentuates the death metaphor once, twice and thrice again. The next morning, Freddy, who had his own problems with alcohol, becomes the voice of reason. “Are you just gonna kill yourself?” He asks Don. “Give them what they want? Do the work, Don.” The episode ends with Don typing his tags for Peggy on a piece of technology — the typewriter.
This week’s episode more than emphasized the many forces against America Don, and included so much overt death foreshadowing that it prompted this Esquire piece titled “Why it Looks Like Don Draper Will Die.” If Don Draper really is American society as Weiner claims, of course he’ll die because we, who, unlike technology, live finite lives, will, too.
How do you think the computer will change the dynamics of SC&P? Will Don become obsolete? Let us know in the comments below.
(Photo on the homepage: amira_a/flickr)
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