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Recap of Mad Men Episode "The Summer Man"

Mad Men's 5 Maddest Moments: Episode "The Summer Man"

Remember last week's Mad Men when Don leaves his office door open? I assumed it was so he'd be more accessible to his employees, but I had no idea that Don would be letting down his walls for us as well. If that episode is about Don hitting bottom, then this week is how he starts digging himself out. First order of business: start a journal. Perhaps inspired by Roger's own memoirs, Don takes to paper to chronicle his thoughts and get him off the booze . . . a little. It's as dour as you might expect, but a perspective that I'm excited to see nonetheless. At the forefront of Don's mind: how people always want more than they have. It's a theme that applies to Don's drinking and his appetite for women, but also to Betty's own dreams of a picture-perfect life with Henry. However, by the end of this episode both of the exes change their spots (for now). It feels like the signal of a new era for Mad Men, where anything could be possible for the characters—and it has me excited to see where the rest of this season goes. Let's take a look at the night's events when you read more.

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  • Welcome to the frat house: The newbie boys of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are in rare form this week and ready to send the women into a tizzy. When Joey's not making crude remarks about Joan's cleavage, there's Rizzo, pressing his butt cheeks against the office windows, telling jokes about balls, and adding the word "poontang" to the Mad Men vocab. The men of 1965—just like the men of today, ladies!
  • Women stick together, right? Joey will not let up with Joan; first he tells her she looks like she's trying to get raped, then he concocts a lewd cartoon of her and tapes it up. After Joan tries to put a stop to them to no avail, Peggy swoops in to her aide, showing Don the drawing. But when Don doesn't take Peggy seriously either, Peggy takes matters into her own hands by firing Joey herself. I was excited to see Peggy lay the smack down, but Joan is less thrilled. As the two women stand alone in the elevator, Joan lays into Peggy about her show of authority, insinuating that the move made Joan look like a "meaningless secretary" and Peggy a "humourless bitch." So which is it—was Peggy's move a stand for women, or just reinforcing stereotypes?
  • The double date from hell: Don goes on yet another date with Betty-lookalike Bethany, but as they dine, in walks his ex and Henry for an important business dinner. Betty freaks over the encounter, has a stiff drink, cries in the bathroom, and smokes her little heart out before complaining to Henry on the car ride home. Henry's steamed over having to deal with Don (again), telling Betty that perhaps they "rushed into this." Uh oh, so much for the happy family Betty thought she was getting! But the night's drama has the opposite effect for Don, as Bethany decides to "make him more comfortable" in the back of a cab. Nothing like a run-in with the ex to create some competition.
  • Sink or swim: In Don's struggle for more self-control, he takes up swimming at the local aquatic club. The exercise tires him out, and all he really wants to do is fall to the bottom of the pool, but it's just a larger metaphor for Don's life. When he goes to reach for a stiff glass, he asks Blankenship for a coffee instead. And when he finally gets a date with Dr. Faye, he suppresses the more, um, primal urges that got him in trouble in the past. When Faye hints about going home with him, he turns her down, saying he can only take her to her door for now. I'm proud of you, Don. Baby steps.
  • Relationships for grownups: Props to Betty. Little Gene is celebrating his second birthday, and though Henry has made it clear to Don that he doesn't want him to show up to the party, it's Betty who acts like the adult when Don walks through the door. She goes over, picks up Gene, and hands him to his daddy with a cordial hello. Did I see that right? Could Betty and Don learn to play nice after all?

What did you think of the episode? Are you rooting for Don and Dr. Faye? Excited to see Betty move on? Still giggling over Mad Men's first full moon? Share your reactions below in the comments!

Image Source: AMC
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