I often find myself in situations where I feel obligated to have a good time and look happy. When I can’t even pull that off I just look occupied: At parties, I’ll do that move where you pull out your cell phone and pretend to be in an engrossing text message tête-à-tête. I even find myself pretending to be someone else—or exaggerate a part of my personality—to please others. This kind of stuff is unsustainable. It will beat you down. You will find yourself lying on the floor, worse from the wear just because you had a 10 minute conversation with someone.

 Eventually, you have to come clean, unless you’ve made a life out of someone else’s identity.

“You wanna feel shitty right up until the point where I take your dress off, because I’m going to do that. You want to skip dinner, fine, but don’t pretend…I want you. I want you all the time.”

Don Draper is back and he is pulling no punches. Megan thinks she is a “horrible person” because she had a miscarriage and didn’t tell Don. If you only knew what you’re husband has been up to Megan. Don’s affair with Sylvia is clearly Don’s affair of the season. It is scary how good he is at being promiscuous. “This didn’t happen”, he says after they have sex. He effortlessly keeps the whole thing locked inside his head where no one, especially Megan, can find it.

Sylvia isn’t so good at this, luckily she has the grandmaster to show her his ways. We see her and Megan turn when Don says he will see her tomorrow, and then awkwardly seem shocked. She is also full of guilt as is evident when Megan is talking about her own shame. She is reticent to jump into this affair with the same gusto of Don. She is definitely feeling bad about cheating on her friend’s husband. You can’t think about these things Sylvia! Listen to Don’s sagely advice!

I love Megan in this episode. First of all, how great is Jessica Paré at crying? I really enjoywatching her cry. Did I really just say that? I am such a horrible person. Megan cancels dinner because she isn’t feeling well and she doesn’t want to “pretend to have a good time.” Sure Megan did lie about the miscarriage but she eventually tells Don. She is one of the only people in this episode pure of heart. She can’t even sleep knowing that she is lying to Don.

As good as Don is at lying, he refuses to engage in any of this subterfuge at work. The client wants to feed them ideas about local advertising because Jaguar would be more receptive hearing it from Don. Pete is all on board with this and in the meeting he is dynamite. Don intentionally overdoes it, talking about reaching “truck drivers and housewives.” “I am 100 percent positive that this approach moves cars…even used cars”, he says full of pomp and glory. To bomb this bad you have to be special at your craft.

Roger Sterling one-liner of the night: “That was the deftest self-immolation I’ve ever seen.”

And while Pete is an ace at pretending when he is at work, he is abysmal when it comes to his marriage. He is actually cheating on his wife with the wife of his next-door neighbor! Rookie mistake dude! Pete could learn a lot from Don. When his mistress runs over to the Campbell house after her husband assaults her, Pete is a goner.    

Trudy dresses him down emphatically the following day. “Couldn’t you just pretend!?" she exclaims. “All I wanted was for you to be discrete.” She then goes on to tell Pete that she will “destroy” him and sets a radius around the house where it is acceptable for Pete to unzip his fly. Trudy is too smart and too confident of a woman to sit idly by and bear witness to this.                                          

Just as the Campbells are having marital difficulties, so are Don and Megan. Megan really seems to be trying but Don isn’t engaged at all. Everything he says to her is devoid of any meaning whatsoever. “I want what you want”, he says and I guess he thinks that he is trying. I guess he thinks he is being a good husband. He isn’t. He would rather sit forlornly outside of his apartment door for God knows how long, rather than spend additional time with his wife.  

I have to say: I’m not sure what purpose the flashback to adolescent Don at the whorehouse accomplished. We know he is the son of a prostitute and his childhood was hell. I don’t think this flashback added much insight into his childhood; it actually felt sort of hackneyed. Yeah we get it: Don’s cheats on his wife because Uncle Mac was promiscuous too; he never did find his own sins. I see that they linked this up with Megan and Sylvia discussing their upbringing and why it would make Megan feel guilty but I think this episode would have worked better without the flashbacks.

It was nonetheless a strong episode that I enjoyed very much. It wasn’t as strong as the magnificent premier but they can’t all be that good.

Additional notes:

Other collaborations in this episode include:

  • Raymond letting Timmy give his presentation on ketchup and cursing him when he leaves the room
  • The waiter at the restaurant who has his lines memorized and Dr. Rosen prods him to do his “spiel”
  • Joan who not only won’t pretend to be cordial with Herb, she insults him to his face
  • Peggy pretends, and fails, to be supportive to her creative team; she also pretends that Stan is a client when her boss walks into her office

I love the directorial choice to repeatedly interrupt Don’s monologue with cuts to them having sex. I thought that added a nice artistic touch.

Classic Pete Campbell line when he is questioning his mistress after Trudy leaves the room. “What did you say to him!?” He bristles. Pete has always been one to utilize a good guilt trip.