Then there was Don himself, still the lothario, but rapidly becoming a figure of pity. For me the most telling moment of the episode was when Don's secretary Allison had to retrieve his keys and come to the rescue of her drunken boss. "He's pathetic," sneered new assistant Joey. What a turnaround for the man who had it all.
Of course Don and Allison ended up having a drunken one-night stand—an awkward fumble on the couch that made neither party look good. And earlier Don made moves on his student nurse neighbor—a flirtation that felt both creepy and desperate. At times like this, you can sense Mad Men is not going to end well for Don Draper. Is this the beginning of the end?
Danielle Robinson (account director at New York advertising company Footsteps Group): This episode put a spotlight on the complexities of client-agency relationships, especially for an agency leaning on one or two accounts for the majority of their revenue. From welcoming the return of Freddie Rumson—who arrived with the $2 million Pond's cold cream account in hand that he stole from J. Walter Thompson—to throwing an over-budget holiday party all because Lee Garner, Jr (the head of their biggest client, Lucky Strike) invited himself to the festivities, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is seemingly unable to turn down client demands even when integrity and reputation are at stake.
At the holiday party, Garner forced Roger to don a Santa suit and he even got flirty with his wife. When Roger Claus presented Mr. Garner with a Polaroid camera, Mr. Garner quipped, "You didn't need to do that." That's when Lane mumbled a reply that summed up the agency's position perfectly: "Yes, we did."
Meanwhile, we learned that while Peggy is anything but traditional in her professional life, she has chosen a very different approach to her dating life. She led her boyfriend, Mark, to believe that she is a virgin—perhaps to get him to marry her, perhaps to try to finally live up to what her family expects of her. Whatever the reason, by the end of the episode she sleeps with him (shocker!). It will be interesting watching this storyline unfold and finding out if Peggy gets what she wants.
Catie Cambria (fashion publicist at Donna Karan New York): When Roger Sterling is chided into a Santa suit, while Joan glides by leading the cha-cha-cha, I thought about power, gender, and the '60s. Joan rules the party in a red bow dress, while Roger is haplessly stuck in St. Nick velvet, forced to watch the one "present" (as he alluded to Joan earlier) he can't have. The office Christmas party was everything I hoped it would be, but the "Roman orgy" had none of the trimmings of business as usual.
Clearly, the power dynamics are changing on this show; women rule in this episode. The beautiful blonde Dr. Faye Miller presents a new methodology at SCDP; Peggy scolds Freddie for being "old fashioned"; Don's new neighbor, Phoebe, tucks an inevitably drunk Don into bed without so much as a look at him.