What the fuck did I just watch?
This whole thing came off like a badly written (and, in parts — and it truly pains me to say this — badly acted) play. Including the scene gif-ed above. I officially Don't Care about Dick in the whorehouse and Aimée Swanson's resemblance to Betty and Don's inability to handle being dumped like the sack of garbage he is.
Peggy was, as usual, the only great thing about this episode. Lovely scene with her and Stan. I was also glad to see Betty back in top bitch form tonight. Other highlights: Roger and Aaron Echolls being of one mind, Ginsberg being off his rocker even without any substances.
Otherwise, the whole thing was shit. Pure shit. Honestly, the show is now weakest when it focuses on Don (and, by extension, Megan). I also don't think time lapses work too well on this show — historically, I've disliked the episodes where we're looking through from Don's point of view and missing time. (I can't recall now if it only happened once, or if it's happened a couple of times. In any case, it's tedious. I'm possibly scarred for life by BSG's inane use of "24 hours earlier..." back in Season 3 or whatever.) I think the only time the lapse has worked was with Roger's LSD trip.
And, by the way, don't you know, black women exist only to clean up your mess and also take your children hostage and rob you blind.
Dear Matthew Weiner: We get it. Parents are important. Parents suck. Parents shape their children. Children shape their parents. The child is the father of the man. Something something Don never had a mother. Look, we get that this show is supposed to be working on a million subtle layers, but for that to work, the episode has to both work and be subtle. This did neither. ("My mother. No, my first girlfriend." Really? Really. Bringing Baz Luhrmann levels of subtlety here, dude.)
And I also get that this season, and the last couple of seasons, and maybe this whole show, is charting the Decline and Fall of Don Draper. Last week was about losing his heart, his soul, whatever piece of him he thinks lies with Sylvia. Here, he's honestly losing his fucking mind. Only Peggy can see through his shit — his ranting isn't brilliant. It's not even about the product. He's just saying syllables and doesn't realize that they're not corresponding to the thoughts in his head. But oh my God, enough. I think they could have continued with the thread of the Incredible Falling (M)Adman without such a ham-fisted, unengrossing episode. I honestly spent the latter half of the Draper scenes checking the time and waiting for it to end so I could come here and talk to you guys about it.
Had this episode been good, with something more to recommend it than the fuckwittery we were given, I would laud the way they made us feel as if we, too, were high. As it stands, I think this might be my least favourite episode of this show, ever.
Whatever. I hope the end of the season redeems this episode in hindsight. I suggest Don die of lung cancer. Nobody will feel a thing, just like Kenny coming out of the doctor's office.
Please, if anyone can tell me why I should like this episode, I urge you to let me know. I honestly want to see something else in it besides irritation (and, I assume, thematic setup for the end of the season).
Next week: Just like in all the previous weeks, Peggy wants to know what's going on. Pete drinks. Ted walks. Don still exists.
ETA: In the comments below, we discuss the rape of Don Draper. While this episode ties together thematically with how much Aimée damaged Don psychologically and he still doesn't realize it, I think (a) this plot point suffers from having been presented in such a weak episode, especially as I'm sick of flashbacks and (b) I don't think this makes the episode any more watchable (in an interesting sense, not in a "Wow, I want to watch that over and over" sense).
I also think that while it serves as a partial explanation for why Don is so fucked up, it does not serve as an excuse for his behaviour, nor does it change my opinion that his story is the one I am least interested in.