Who would you rather have tuck you in tonight: Lou Avery, frustrated cartoonist? Or Amy From Delaware? Don Draper got a sampling of both in “The Runaways” — and Amy was only slightly more satisfying.
At work, Don is playing the good soldier, falling in line for Peggy and Lou and contributing not only to the Burger Chef campaign, but also pitching ideas for HandiWrap. His marriage to Megan has somewhat stabilized, at least to the point where they’re friendly on the phone and she’s looking forward to his next weekend visit.
That cross-country plane ride gets moved up a week when Don receives a call out of the blue from Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece. Anna, as you’ll recall, was Don’s first “wife,” the late war-widow who knew all of Dick Whitman’s secrets and was a great comfort to him until the day she died of cancer. Stephanie is her beautiful niece, a Berkeley student with whom Don flirted heavily in a season 4 episode. She’s pregnant, so you’ll forgive me for immediately Googling her last appearance on the show to see if the chronology was nine or 10 months ago. I’m not the only one who thought that it could be Don’s baby, am I?
Stephanie’s condition — not only is she pregnant, but she’s basically homeless — causes Don to change his weekend plans. He gives her Megan’s address in Laurel Canyon and tells Stephanie he’ll be there that very night — he’s flying in to see them both.
Unfortunately, it’s not the typical Friday at SC&P. Lou Avery is on the warpath after Stan discovers that the boss harbors ambitions to become the next Chet Stover, a former advertising colleague who helped create Underdog — a third-rate cartoon character devised to sell General Mills children’s cereal. Lou’s idea for a comic strip is 100 times better than that crass concoction, at least according to Lou. But Scout’s Honor, about a silly military monkey with Beetle Bailey-like attributes, has been the punchline of the writers’ lounge ever since Stan found some art for it in the XEROX machine. He and Mathis were mocking Lou in the bathroom, without realizing the boss was in the next stall. “I heard everything!” bellows Lou, in front of everyone at the creative meeting, including team-player Don. “From your first fart to your last dying breath!”
Obviously, what Scout’s Honor lacks in subtext, it makes up for in terse, colorful dialogue.
Lou unloads on the whole lot of smarmy hipsters, calling them “a bunch of flag-burning snots. You’ve got a thing to learn about patriotism and loyalty. The very fabric of Scout’s Honor is a joke to you.” He went on to say, “My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.” Okay, maybe not that last part — but let’s call this Lou’s Col. Jessup speech. Lou isn’t above calling a Code Red, and that applies to everyone, even Don. No one leaves that night until the work is done. “I’m going to tuck you in tonight,” he gleefully tells Don, who really wants to catch that last plane to L.A.
Don has agreed to several stipulations for his return to work — most notably serving under Lou — but never did I think that Don, a partner in the company he helped create, would be required to submit to such petty whims. I’m increasingly hoping that silhouette I’ve been watching fall from a New York skyscraper in the show’s opening credits for seven seasons turns out to be Lou Avery after Don tosses him through a window. I can certainly imagine the falling character in a powder-blue cardigan.
NEXT: Megan tells Stephanie the inn is full