Mad Men recap: Coups de Grace

Season 6's penultimate episode finds Don alienating himself even further, while Bob Benson's secret is finally confirmed
Ep. 12 | Aired Jun 16, 2013

ORANGE YOU GLAD?: Don gets a call from West Coast Harry, who tells him the Sunkist folks want to give them business.

AMC

Don has never been one to forgive and forget, and the methods of his vengeance are always clever in their cruelty. Whether he's stuffing Roger full of stomach-churning oysters and alcohol, drinking Ted under the office table, or vivisecting Peggy and Ted's flirtatious relationship in full view of everyone, Don's vindictiveness can be merciless, and the season's penultimate episode saw our (anti-)hero taking a torch to yet more bridges.

A pair of twinned shots from above portray Don in isolation. In the first, he's sleeping off a hangover in Sally's bed, having returned late the night before. He's starting to come apart at the seams, neglecting Megan for the cold glow of the TV and drinking far more than he should, his face turning that splotchy scarlet that makes Jon Hamm's head look like a real ham. Megan advises him to slow it down, but he can't even make it through breakfast without  pouring himself a surreptitious screwdriver. (More oranges for The Godfather fans.) He's building a wall around himself, mortared with alcohol.

Part of this is Don beating himself up about the damage he's done to his relationship with Sally. Still, when Betty calls to tell him Sally refuses to visit, he acts like he couldn't care less. "What do you want me to do about it?" he snaps and when Betty mentions the idea of boarding school, he jumps at the idea, offering to pay the full tuition just to get Sally out of the way.

Whatever residual guilt he's still feeling—remorse generally tends to slide off him as if he were the Teflon Don—soon gets redirected when he finds out about Ted and Peggy. Megan takes him to see Rosemary's Baby, the novel of which Sally was seen reading earlier this season. This matinee choice is rife with implications: For one, it underlines the possibility of a pregnant Megan (as do those two eggs she was cooking), as well as reaffirms that pesky Sharon Tate connection via director Roman Polanski. The film is also about a woman betrayed by her handsome husband when he conspires with the neighbors, a story with pretty obvious parallels, although I'm pretty sure Don wouldn't have slept with Sylvia if she looked like Ruth Gordon.

NEXT: Ted Talks...

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