I love when Mad Men does this. Even though it is a show filled with an exorbitant amount of great characters, sometimes it is nice when they have an hour focusing on just a couple. Due to New Year's, this week in "The Good News" we left the day-to-day of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and focused on Don, Joan and Lane.
Don Draper, this week taking on his real identity of Dick Whitman, every so often heads out to California to visit with the real Donald Draper's wife, Anna. Instead of drowning into an abyss of depression, like he did at Christmas, this man seems to enjoy himself so much when he goes out to the west coast. Whether it is his extreme satisfaction with the relationship he has with Anna, or just the pleasant SoCal weather, he has come out from under the rock he was laying under last week.
Don't get me wrong, he's still completely troubled, but he wasn't afraid to smile this week. Of course it was easy to smile when Anna's college-aged niece was being so young and beautiful. Just like last week, Dick was not afraid to roll the dice with this young girl. Like the nurse down the hall, though, she shot him down. This time the girl meant business though as it was not just a "no." It was a "no, and you're fake ex-wife has cancer."
Yes, the original Mrs. Draper has cancer and to make things worse, she doesn't even know it. The doctor, Anna's sister, and Anna's niece all think she'd be better off not knowing about it and just finding out when she is about to kick the bucket.
Don originally hates this idea, but after watching how much she is enjoying her life, he ultimately decides to join the crew and keep things quiet. He heads home to New York later that night and celebrates New Year's Eve on the red-eye.
So Don then comes back to NYC and finds an empty office. Well, empty other than a lonely Lane Pryce, going over the figures for the umpteenth time. Rather than continue to waste their lives away, the two men decide to go out for a night on the town. Boy, was this fun.
It's these moments when Don gets to connect with someone new that I enjoy so much. Lane compares Don to "a chap from school that they all used to follow around in a pack, and he didn't notice they were there." So the fact that Don is going out of his way to take Lane to a movie, a restaurant, a comedy show and finish the night off with a couple of prostitutes, made it that much better. Lane really came out of his shell with Don - and, heck, he even paid for his $25 hooker.Meanwhile, Joanie got her first real screen time of the season. First, she went to the doctor to see about starting a family with her doctor husband. There, we learned she had had two abortions in her life.
Then, because of Greg's hectic work schedule, Joan can't get New Year's off like the rest of the agency. When she asks for a couple days off during the middle of January instead, Lane refuses and her life continues to be horrible.
So trying to celebrate a Happy New Year with Greg, Joanie sets up some dinner and prepares to make fresh squeezed orange juice before she slices her finger wide open. Greg does a fantastic job suturing up his wife and Joan can't help but turn on the faucets. "Everything's gonna be okay," Greg says, referring to his eventually call to Vietnam.
She simply replies, "When?" Good question, Joan. Good question.
- Those who thought that Allison was typing her resignation last week, they were wrong. You see to me, it was as if she was upset with the situation but was getting right back to the grind. This week proved that she is nothing but professional as she was right back to doing a great job as Don's secretary (not an easy task).
- The dancing in the background of the LA bar was fantastic to see.
- Nobody ever seems to remember that Peggy currently has a boyfriend. After telling Joan that she has to buy a dress, Joan replies "big group of girls , you'll wanna stand out."
- Better than the writer call back is the character call back. When Don spills his drink all over the floor, Lane tells him its all over the rug. Just as Anna told Don a few days earlier, Don explained that "they'll have to smoke the dress." Lane, rightfully so, didn't understand the phrase.
- I got a big Texas belt buckle...yee haw!!!" Lane Pryce, enough said.
This was a great episode to escape into a bit, a "welcome distraction" as Lane said, but I am looking forward to more Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce action next week. How about you?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.