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Mad Men recap: A Swimmingly Good Time

Don gets wet, Betty gets drunk, and Peggy gets dressed down

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Mad Men

Mad Men

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss

”It was a nightmare,” said Miss Blankenship, wearing those divinely ridiculous goggles, of her traumatic surgery. ”I was blind. And now I see.”

It’s June 15, a few weeks after Don’s amazing night of healing and grace. The episode opened with him standing alone at the ledge of a pool. (I wonder how many men will consider taking up swimming after this cleanser of an hour.) A lap left Don’s battered lungs in an uproar, but he looked blissfully spent at the end of his workout. When he emerged from the gym it was as if he had regained his senses for the first time since Betty kicked him out. The light was deliciously harsh, the sound of the Stones wonderfully rough on the ears. The smell of summer, corn!, was in the air. As good it was to see Don wash himself clean in the pool, it was almost more encouraging to see those bare feet under his writing table. Don finally looked calm and comfortable in his own skin, daring to put some of his headspace down on the page. ”I’m trying to gain a modicum of control over the way I feel,” he wrote. ”I want to wake up. I don’t want to be that man.”

After that first morning swim, Don practically strutted down the hall to his office. He’s clinging hard to his new routine, swapping Budweiser, coffee, chianti and sody pop for the harder stuff. In the first of two scenes where the sound dropped out, he sat in his office chair looking paralyzed. (Did anyone else immediately think of Tony Soprano marooned on his therapy chair?) It was a brainstorming session at work but the only thing that existed for him was the drink making its way to Peggy’s lips, the bottles on the table, the cool glass in his hand. ”They say as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking you have a drinking problem,” he’d written in his journal. Well, acknowledging you have a problem is the first step I guess. I think I’m right to still feel tremendous worry for Don. The booze seemed to be silently screaming at him throughout the episode. When Miss Blanekship limped over clutching four fresh bottles he seemed desperate for her to remove them from his sight. ”I’m set,” he said. ”And then you’re not,” she snapped back.

Down the hall, the boys were behaving like cavemen. ”I feel like Margaret Mead,” snickered Peggy as she watched Stan and Joey try to bash the vending machine into submission. That Joey turned out to be a first class jackass, didn’t he? We’ve seen him giving Joan lip before but I wasn’t prepared for tonight’s ugliness. Joan stomped into the break room, demanding that her colleagues quit behaving like they were at a keg party. Joey went for the jugular, sneering that she was acting like an old school marm. ”Sorry Mom,” he spat. (And ooooh boy did we learn that that kid hates his mother. ”My mother was a Joan,” he told Peggy. ”She even wore a pen around her neck so people would stare at her tits.” Ladies, run don’t walk from this handsome cancer of a man.)

NEXT: When did we get a vending machine?