The fourth season of Mad Men is in full swing, exploring the aftermath of the creation of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and the dissolution of the Draper marriage.
To help make sense of it all, we have a panel of insiders from the worlds of television, advertising, and fashion—Richard Drew, and Catie Cambria—to provide their takes on all the sex, the clothes, and of course, the drama.
They weigh in on this week's episode, in which an agency-wide meeting shakes up Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
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Sally Draper continued to rebel as mom Betty Draper caught her with bad boy Glen and reacted in her usual heavy-handed way—threatening to move the family out of the neighborhood. Kiernan Shipka is a remarkable young actress who's really come into her own this season—but I think this storyline would have played better earlier in the season. We're up to the penultimate episode of series 4 and Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce is self-destructing. I couldn't help but feel the dramas of a 10-year-old girl felt small fry by comparison.
This week I wanted more of the internal drama at the firm—and everything that took us away from this core crisis felt like a distraction (that included the return of Don's former hippie chick flame Midge—now a full-on junkie—and Betty's chats with Sally's shrink). The scenes between the firm's partners just crackled with energy and tension and I loved how Peggy, Mad Men's best character, provided the inspiration for Don to pen a full-page ad in the New York Times, resetting the company's fortunes. It was a bold, ballsy move and typical Don Draper. Good to see Don getting his mojo back.
Now just one episode remains—and I'm wondering how the producers will wrap up the show's best season to date. Last year ended with the team jumping ship and founding the new agency. Will Season 4 repeat such a dramatic move, or go for a low-key finale?
Catie Cambria (fashion publicist at Donna Karan New York): Where has Betty been all season? This week opened with her, and it was a reminder of all that we (and Don) have been missing. Upheaval has been the only constant for Draper and for SCDP, which now seems on the verge of extinction.
Desperation seemed to fill this episode, from Don's sad encounter with Midge to the tobacco meeting that falls through at the last minute. Don's bold letter in the New York Times seems to fall on deaf ears and causes Faye to have to leave the SCDP account. Sally's progress seems to yield no results with Betty, who announces to Henry that she wants to move.
Can all of this be turned around in the finale? Have we traveled this far with SCDP just to watch its dissolution?
Past Mad Men panels:
'Mad Men': Lust and Loss at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
'Mad Men' Meets the '60s
'Mad Men': Love and Death at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
'Mad Men': Times Change, but Sadness Remains the Same
'Mad Men': The Don and Peggy Show
'Mad Men': The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Don Draper
'Mad Men': Bad Behavior All Around
'Mad Men': One-Liners, Sex Talk, and Nude Photography
'Mad Men': A Not-So-Happy New Year
'Mad Men': The Beginning of the End for Don Draper?
'Mad Men': 4 Takes on the Season Premiere
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